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Monday, September 1, 2008

Rotorcraft Report: USAF Sees CSAR-X Bidding Moving Forward

MILITARY

U.S. Air Force officials expect the selection of a new winner for its $10-billion-plus combat search-and-rescue (CSAR) helicopter contract will be posted as planned within the next couple of months.

The service originally selected Boeing in November 2006 to replace 100 performance-limited Sikorsky Aircraft HH-60G Pave Hawks with 141 helicopters based on its CH-47F. But Sikorsky, offering a variant of its S-92, and a team led by Lockheed Martin that proposed an aircraft based on AgustaWestland’s AW101 twice succeeded in protesting that choice, forcing the Air Force to rebid the CSAR-X contract.

The Air Force had hoped to choose a new winner by July, but delayed that to allow thorough reviews of its own team’s recommendations on the contract. USAF officials said they expect a review by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ staff to be completed by the middle of this month, after which the winner’s selection would be announced. It remains to be seen whether the Air Force will do so before the U.S. presidential election in November.

The review is aimed at verifying that the Air Force’s selection process has resolved every question about the bids and has been fair and transparent, a service official said.

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