Accession Number:

ADA467680

Title:

Military Helicopter Modernization: Background and Issues for Congress

Descriptive Note:

Congressional rept.

Corporate Author:

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE

Report Date:

2004-06-24

Pagination or Media Count:

55.0

Abstract:

Recent military operations, particularly those in Afghanistan and Iraq, have brought to the fore a number of outstanding questions concerning helicopters in the U.S. armed forces, including deployability, safety, survivability, affordability, and operational effectiveness. These concerns are especially relevant, and made more complicated, in an age of military transformation, the global war on terrorism, and increasing pressure to rein in funding for the military, all of which provide contradictory pressures with regard to DODs large, and often complicated, military helicopter modernization efforts. Despite these questions, the military use of helicopters is likely to hold even, if not grow. This report includes a discussion of the evolving role of helicopters in military transformation. The Department of Defense DOD fields 10 different types of helicopters, which are largely of 1960s and 1970s design. This inventory numbers approximately 5,500 rotary-wing aircraft, not including an additional 144 belonging to the Coast Guard, and ranges from simple utility platforms such as the ubiquitous UH-1 Huey to highly-advanced, multi-mission platforms such as the Air Forces MH-53J Pave Low special operations helicopter and the still-developmental MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. Three general approaches can be taken to modernize DODs helicopter forces upgrading current platforms, rebuilding current helicopter models often called recapitalization, or procuring new models. These approaches can be pursued alone, or concurrently, and the attractiveness or feasibility of any approach or combination of approaches depends largely on budgetary constraints and operational needs. In some cases, observers argue that upgrades to helicopter sub-systems, especially radar, communications, and targeting systems, are the most cost effective way to satisfy current helicopter requirements.

Subject Categories:

  • Helicopters
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE