Air Force Times: Congress will fight to fund Combat Rescue Helo

(Photo US Air Force Staff Sgt. Devin Doskey)

Air Force Times
By Aaron Mehta
Staff writer

WASHINGTON — There’s still two weeks to go before the Pentagon’s 2015 budget proposal becomes public, but Congress already may be gearing up for a fight over the future of the Air Force’s Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) program.

Members of Congress will “certainly” look to add funding for CRH back into the budget if the service chooses not to fund it, according to a Democratic aide on the Hill.

The staffer called Hill support for the program “pretty strong,” citing a letter sent by 74 members of Congress to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and a significant push by a number of key senators.

“We’re still hopeful and believe they can award the contract,” the aide said. “We think with the funding they have, with the support that is clearly there in Congress, that they should be able to award the contract.“

The CRH program is the Defense Department’s second attempt in the past decade to replace its heavily used Sikorsky-built Pave Hawk helicopters, some of which have been performing military and civil rescue operations since 1982. The Air Force wants to buy 112 new helicopters for the combat search-and-rescue mission.