Chinooks To the Rescue

CSAR-X-2_375x300.jpgBoeing's HH-47 Chinook has won the $10-billion CSAR-X contest to provide 141 Combat Search and Rescue choppers to the Air Force, beating out the Lockheed Martin US.101 and the Sikorsky H-92. The new birds will replace around 100 decrepit Sikorsky HH-60G Pavehawks that are too small, too flimsy and underpowered. As Boeing puts it in a press release,

The tandem rotor, heavy-lift, high-altitude HH-47 is based on the CH/MH-47 Chinook transport helicopter, with performance capabilities that have been widely demonstrated in the ongoing global war on terrorism and in numerous U.S. and international humanitarian relief operations.
Damn straight. When the Pavehawk was procured, C-SAR was all about nabbing downed fighter pilots from Soviet-held Germany -- a short-range mission in a cool climate requiring minimal lifting capability. These days C-SAR is about much more: reinforcing outnumbered ground troops on some distant mountaintop, spiriting noncombatants away from a remote warzone and plucking hurricane survivors off rooftops. That takes speed, range and powerful engines, things the Chinook has in spades.The award comes hot on the heels of a search-and-rescue shuffle that saw the Pavehawks and their crews get bumped from the regular Air Force to Special Operations Command then back. It was SOC that favored the HH-47, and this preference apparently stuck despite the reshuffle.The decision means that the 40-year-old Chinook design will remain in production until around 2020 at least. In addition to the new Air Force models, the Army is buying 400 new CH-47Fs and Special Forces MH-47Gs ... and international customers are starting to line up too.--David Axe
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