US Air Force Special Operations could order more Bell-Boeing CV-22s if demand increases, AFSOC’s commander said this week.
Lt Gen Brad Webb says he is not aware of a purchase going forward, but says AFSOC is examining combat loss replacements for the CV-22.
He made his comments to reporters at the annual Air Force Association conference Wednesday.
AFSOC has previously expressed interest in purchasing more CV-22s while Boeing’s production line is still hot. For now, 51 CV-22s are scheduled to be delivered to AFSOC by the end of 2019. Outside the US, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intimated his interest earlier this summer in a vertical takeoff and landing capability.
Meanwhile, AFSOC is still participating in discussions about the air force’s combat search and rescue (CSAR) mission. AFSOC and Air Combat Command have previously battled over which should take control of CSAR, and AFSOC has proposed using CV-22s and Sikorsky HH-60 helicopters to satisfy the mission in the past.
Webb has commissioned papers within AFSOC to examine CSAR, which the command will present to ACC, he says.
The USAF is now executing a $9.8 billion combat rescue helicopter acquisition programme to replace the aging HH-60G aircraft with the new Sikorsky HH-60W. The new helicopter will include onboard defensive capabilities for an increased threat environment.
Webb says he agrees with USAF chief Gen David Goldfein, who expressed support for a mixed CSAR force. Webb also left unmanned aircraft as a possible option.
“It’s a family-of-systems approach,” Webb says. “Whereas an HH-60 is appropriate in some areas, I think CV-22 is appropriate in others. I think a ground forces vehicle may be appropriate in others.”