The Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee met today for a hearing on FY13 DOD Rotorcraft Modernization Programs. Chairman Roscoe Bartlett gave the following opening statement as prepared for delivery:
"The use of helicopters has dramatically changed warfare doctrine from the time of their introduction during the Korean War, followed by development prior to Vietnam, use during Vietnam as a mobility platform, and current rotorcraft Aviation operations. The helicopter is now a platform of maneuver, used for multi-missions to include, resupply, medical evacuation, reconnaissance, air assault, and attack operations.
"The U.S. armed forces currently have approximately 7,000 helicopters. Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have put an even greater reliance on rotorcraft support as a result of Improvised Explosive Devices which have restricted ground movement. Based on current planned force structure reductions, the demand for rotorcraft capability will be even more critical in the future. Maintaining a healthy fleet of rotorcraft equates to the total force having the ability to cover the wide area battle space as referenced in the National Security Strategy.
"The purpose of this hearing is to get an update from each Service as to the condition of their respective current rotorcraft fleet and plans for future upgrades and modernization. In addition to various platform updates, the committee hopes to learn how the services are utilizing Research and Development dollars to develop the next generation of rotary wing systems and sub-systems. And finally, given the likelihood that there will be a continued or even greater dependence on rotorcraft in the future and the likelihood that rotorcraft will have to operate in greater threat environments than they currently do in Afghanistan, the committee expects to learn what each service is doing in regards to aircraft survivability equipment and how they are working together to maximize resources."