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Trying Again for the U.S. Air Force as Request for Proposals Released for New Rescue Helicopter

The U.S. Air Force has had its struggles over the last decades conducting competitions for new aircraft. The KC-X tanker program took 3 tries before Boeing (BA) ended up the winner with their modified 767 aircraft. Another program was a new Combat Search & Rescue (CSAR) helicopter to replacing aging MH-60 helicopters originally built by Sikorsky, part of United Technologies (UTX).

That program saw two attempts which ended up going nowhere due to protests and reviews. The last one in 2008 did see Boeing win the contest with a version of the CH-47 Chinook heavy lift helicopter but after the GAO upheld protests by the losers, Sikorsky and Augusta Westland, the Air Force decided not to pursue a 3rd attempt at that time.

Now reportedly a Request for Proposals for a new program, Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH), was put out recently. This gives vendors 90 days to submit their proposals with source selection planned for most of next year and a contract award in late Fiscal Year 2013.

The program is for 112 aircraft and has a cost goal of under $6.8 billion.

Potential bidders will include Boeing, Sikorsky, Augusta Westland, and presumably EADS North America could participate with a Eurocopter aircraft.

Based on past history with recent Air Force acquisitions the service will have to do a very thorough and documented source selection process as a protest is very likely due to the upcoming budgetary situations and lack of new helicopter programs.

The FedBizOpps page for this procurement may be found here.

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