My good friend Mike Goldfarb - who edits the Worldwide Standard blog - put together a good report on the Air Forces search for a new combat search and rescue helicopter to replace its ageing HH-60 Pave Hawks.
The Air Force awarded the contract last year to Boeing for a CSAR version of the massive CH-47 Chinook. Remember that the Pave Hawk is a medium-lift helo, the 47 is a heavy-lift one along the lines of the CH-53.
Boeings competitors immediately protested the decision to Congress and the GAO upheld their protests, telling the Air Force to redo the contract. And the services chief was lukewarm on the pick anyway
The Boeing HH-47 costs more and doesn't meet the requirements for consideration, but that's not all. The aircraft is, simply put, not a good fit for the search and rescue mission. And this is where Congress has gotten involved. In February, Air Force chief of staff General Michael Moseley told a Congressional hearing that "the Chinook would have not been his first choice, but that the Air Force would make it work," according to the Hill. And later told reporters that "I am not sure [the HH-47] is the one that I would have picked, but I am not the guy that picks."
Im not sure where to come down on this one, but Goldfarb weaves together all the disparate strands of the story in a pretty concise tale
Of the criteria that were evaluated, some appear irrelevant to the CSAR mission, and were not included in the initial RFP, while other crucial factors seem to have been given little weight. The Lockheed US101 has three engines, and can fly on just two. The Chinook has two engines and in theory might fly for a time with one, but "how long and how far it can fly that way depends on load and conditions," according to the company spokesmen. For some reason this was not scored by the Air Force in its evaluation. Cargo requirements, at which the Chinook excels, were given preference by the Air Force in evaluations--though cargo would seem to be a secondary consideration in search and rescue missions.
(Read the rest of Goldfarbs story here)