The Air Force is the only service that trains and equips personnel to recover downed pilots and other warfighters from enemy territory. Last year, the small community of “rescue warriors” flew 4,500 missions, saving the lives of 1,128 warfighters. The people who carry out these missions are among the most decorated in the joint force. But the HH-60G helicopters they fly are worn out from a dozen years of contingency operations in Southwest Asia, and the Air Force is seriously considering canceling plans for a replacement if budget sequestration continues. Termination of the Combat Rescue Helicopter program, as it is called, would put thousands of warfighters at risk in future conflicts and squander the “golden hour” vital to saving injured personnel. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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