AF awards new combat rescue helicopter contract

WASHINGTON -- The Air Force awarded a contract to Sikorsky Aircraft Company June 26, for the procurement of 112 new combat rescue helicopters, training systems and product support elements to replace the service's aging fleet of HH-60G Pave Hawks.

The engineering and manufacturing development phase begins with $1.2 billion, which includes four aircraft.

The Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James said the combat rescue mission is vital to the war fighter and the Air Force must expand and build upon its effectiveness.

"Over the last 10 years, the Air Force has discussed upgrading the platform that performs this sacred mission for all Department of Defense personnel who go into harm's way," James said. "This mission is part of the military ethos, and the Air Force is committed to providing it."

The Air Force is the primary service tasked to organize, train, equip and provide forces to conduct global personnel recovery operations with the specific capability to conduct theater-wide combat search and rescue.

The combat search and rescue mission has saved more than 12,200 U.S., allied and host nation forces in conflicts worldwide, and combat rescue helicopters have played a necessary and vital role in missions worldwide, rescuing more than 5,000 people since Sept. 11, 2001.

"The HH-60 Pave Hawk has proven time and time again its effectiveness in combat and humanitarian operations," said Dr. William A. LaPlante, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition. "This contract secures that mission for many years to come while bringing new capabilities and new technology into the mission by fiscal year 2029."

According to LaPlante, the Air Force must invest into readiness and revitalize the Air Force's core missions by purchasing this new airframe.

"This will ensure the Air Force remains ready to fulfill its commitment to rescue American warriors whenever and wherever required," he said.

As the organization responsible for the successful source selection and now to manage this new platform, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio recognizes the importance of their charge.

"The Air Force has had a long standing covenant with our Airmen to bring them back home safely," said Lt. Gen. C.D. Moore, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center commander. "The award ensures our rescue professionals will have the necessary tools to fulfill that promise for the foreseeable future. That capability is a net force multiplier for the entire team. It is also a great example that reflects how the AFLCMC continues providing the warfighter's edge!"