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GAO: Air Force to Deploy New Combat Rescue Helicopters to Active Component by FY 2020

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The Government Accountability Office has found that the U.S. Air Force intends to start fielding in fiscal 2020 new Combat Rescue Helicopters to replace aging HH-60G Pave Hawk aircraft that have recorded the most flight time when it comes to staff recovery missions.

GAO said in a report published Thursday the service will initially deploy the new helicopters to the active component six years ahead of the reserve component and to the Air National Guard by 2027.

The Air Force plans to issue refurbished Army aircraft to the Air National Guard in 2019 to address the latter’s aging helicopter fleet.

The congressional watchdog said the service may potentially encounter training challenges for reserve component squadrons over a three-year period starting fiscal year 2025 due to the fielding schedule and some service officials told GAO that they plan to retain some HH-60G helicopters to address any training gap.

GAO also found that the condition of the service’s fleet of HH-60Gs has dropped because such helicopters have recorded flight hours that go beyond their expected service life.