October 1, 2011  

Not so fast

To the Air Force for not working faster to field new HH-60 combat search and rescue helicopters to replace aircraft lost in combat over the last decade.

The program was launched in 2009 to get new helicopters to squadrons “as rapidly as possible.” None are yet operational, and fully modified rescue choppers might not reach the battlefield until 2014 or later.

Now the new aircraft could end up costing tens of millions of dollars more than the battle-tested helos they are supposed to replace. Under a proposal to have new H-60s modified to Army special operations requirements, the final price tag could be $40 million apiece. Air Force brass would do well to reject the plan — and then figure out how to buy new helos without breaking the bank.