The past decade has not been kind to all-new military helicopter programs. I can only think of one -- the unarmed, civil-certified UH-72 Lakota -- that has turned out okay. But the ARH-70, VH-71 and CSAR programs blew up after barely getting started. The H-1 upgrades program lives on, thanks mostly to the US Marine Corps' tolerance for performance downgrades, cost overruns and schedule delays.
As I reported on Flightglobal.com earlier today, the US Air Force is again trying its luck with buying helicopters. This time it wants to replace its UH-1Ns with an off the shelf helicopter. Some may recall a similar strategy for the CSAR contract, when the USAF tried to replace the HH-60 with any of three off-the-shelf options: Boeing HH-47, Lockheed Martin VH-71 or Sikorsky HH-92. The USAF selected option the first option, which prompted then-Chief of Staff Gen Michael Moseley to publicly critize his own acquisition department. Let's hope the common vertical lift support program is more successful.