MILITARY | SAR
The V-22 Osprey’s image within the Pentagon clearly is changing after its use in Iraq by the U.S. Marine Corps and entry into service with the Air Force Special Operations Command. At a May 7 briefing on the new defense budget, Vice Adm. Steve Stanley, director of force structure for the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, suggested the tiltrotor transport as a substitute for the cancelled U.S. Air Force CSAR-X combat search and rescue helicopter.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates killed CSAR-X partly because it was a single-service program, Stanley noted. Gates has told the Joint Resources Oversight Council to study the mission with an eye toward creating a new joint program. "We might be able to use the aircraft we have," Stanley offered. "For example, the V-22 might be a way to provide a similar type capability."
Still unclear is whether the JROC will recommend a new joint program or simply conclude no specialized CSAR aircraft is needed. — By Richard Whittle