Procurement: Lawyer Proofing Pave Hawk


December 13, 2007: The U.S.
Air Force is going upgrade its 101 HH-60G "Pave Hawk" search and rescue
helicopters. The oldest of these were built in the 1980s, and the basic design
is 1980s technology. The refurbishment
will include new cockpit hardware (flat screen displays) and software
(to put data on those displays more effectively). A new auto-pilot will work in
rough weather. Lightweight armor will be added to the floor, and new (smaller)
components will make for more room inside. New radios enable pilots to
communicate on more channels, and exchange digital data. New seats will provide
more protection in a crash. All this will keep these aircraft useful for
another 15-20 years. This is needed because efforts to select a new search and
rescue helicopter design have been delayed by lawsuits from the three companies
seeking the contract. If one gets it, the other two sue. This is taking years
to resolve, and without the upgrades, the HH-60Gs will be unable to do the job
before the new helicopters arrive. The upgrades will cost over $100 million.


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