Does CSAR-X Hint at Post-Gold Plated Era in Defense Buying?

Could a downshift in requirements for the Air Force’s new search and rescue helicopter, the CSAR-X, herald a new acquisition era? Well, we are living in the Robert Gates era at the Pentagon so most anything short of reinstituting the draft seems possible.

This one is pretty significant: Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin are teaming-up to bid a modified Blackhawk helicopter for the CSAR-X, basically a recapitalization of the current fleet of 112 HH-60G Pave Hawks. That would mark a pretty serious departure from a $15 billion new build fleet of Chinooks to rescue downed pilots.

Scott Starrett, president of Sikorsky Military Systems, tells DOD Buzz’s Colin Clark that the era of “gold plating” weapons systems with the latest and greatest technologies, which usually translates into escalating costs and program delays, may be at an end. Dan Spoor, aviation systems vice president at Lockheed Martin, said the government’s “focus now is on low-risk and off-the-shelf capability.”

-- Greg Grant

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