The USAF needs to replace its old, slow, small Combat Search and Rescue Helicopters. The average age for the aircraft are just a hair under 25 years old and from the start, they were not a great fit for the job. They are slow, and they have shorter legs than a freak show midget So, what can replace it?
Congress wants to give then the worst possible choice...the HH-47. you know, the shithook... the wondernothing. It seams that the ones in charge of overseeing the competition were not interested in what the mission was.
The CH/MH-47s have been in the news recently because of so many of them going down in Afghanistan. they are worked hard in the high altitudes and they are so slow and so large that they make for easy targets.
The USAF operates 102 MH-60s for Combat Search and Rescue missions, many of them over in Afghanistan and Iraq. I will post some videos this week that I took while I was in Kandahar while the MH-60s were scrambling March of 2003...one never returned.
There used to be three other competitors, the US-101
(a Lockheed licenced variant of the European EH-101),
the Sikorsky S-92
and the piece of crap CV-22
I am not all that keen on the US-101 (don't get me started on the fact that it will be the next Marine-One as the VH-71 Kestrel) but, you have to give them this, they have three engines and can operate on two. (3X2312 shp) you know my feelings about the CV-22...they are no longer a factor. and the S-92 on paper is a great aircraft and out of the four., she was my pick but, like the HH-47, she also only has tho engines rated at 3000 shp each. I have to give Sikorsky credit, the MH-53 program has been a great one for the USAF...
I feel that if you need to lift something very heavy...or carry lots of troops to the fight in one aircraft, the hh-47 is the right choice...but not for Search and Rescue... too heavy, to old, and not very agile. The downwash from this thing is crazy, and I think it might do more harm for a stranded swimmer or a wounded troop than good...
Icing... the HH-47 (or any variant) is not rated to fly in any icing conditions where as both the s-92 and US-101 are rated to fly in moderate icing conditions.
So how did Boeing end up winning the competition? A KC-X deal maybe?
Don't get me wrong... I am not bashing Boeing on this at all...they are offering what they have. Congress are the idiots who picked it.
It looks like more and more people are hearing about this one and some in Congress are not happy... Looks like the competition is open again... Lets see
I feel if anyone is going to get a contract it should be Sikorsky because of the great helicopters they build...not Boeing because they will build a good tanker aircraft. Lets stop the pork and build the right aircraft for the mission.