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Friday, February 22, 2008

EH101 Team Aims to Unseat CH-47 as Low-Risk CSAR-X Option

The team offering the AgustaWestland EH101 in the U.S. Air Force CSAR-X competition for a new combat search and rescue (CSAR) helicopter is working on unseating Boing's Chinook as the lowest-risk option for the service. The Air Force in November 2006 picked Boeing's HH-47 bid as the one with the least risk in fielding a new CSAR platform by late 2012 and relieving the service's overtaxed Sikorsky HH-60G Pave Hawks. Successful protests by the EH101 team (led by Lockheed Martin and including AgustaWestland and Bell Helicopter) and Sikorsky (offering a variant of the S-92) has the Air Force again going through bids, with a goal of a new selection by July. An example of the EH101 team's risk-reduction efforts: On Feb. 13, Lockheed Martin and AgustaWestland successfully demonstrated the EH101's aerial refueling capability, using a U.K. Royal Air Force Merlin Mk3 and an Italian Air Force Lockheed KC-130J tanker. Another element was AgustaWestland's successful testing of its British Experimental Rotor Program (BERP) 4 blades on the Merlin. "We have, in our opinion, addressed all of the major items that someone would be concerned about if they were trying to chase an early [initial operational capability] and move forward," said Dan Spoor, Lockheed Martin's CSAR-X vice president. For related news
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