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Still On for the Fall: The Air Force remains on track to announce the winner of its combat search and rescue helicopter contest this fall, Maj. Gen. David “Scott” Gray, director of Global Reach Programs in the Air Force’s acquisition shop, said yesterday. “We have got warfighters out there that need this capability and they need it soon, and so we are working hard on the acquisition side to make that happen,” he said during a meeting with reporters in the Pentagon. Gray said it is “unknown” whether the contract award will come prior to the US Presidential election in November. Although the Air Force doesn't expect to see the Pentagon Inspector General's report on a probe for irregularities in the formulation of CSAR-X requirements until around February 2009, he said the IG might provide a draft version in September. Unless this draft points to a serious issue, the Air Force does not intend to wait on the final report before awarding the CSAR-X contract, Gray said. “To date, we have heard absolutely nothing from the DOD IG that causes us concern,” he said. The Air Force still plans to procure 141 new rescue helicopters to replace its aging fleet of 101 HH-60G Pave Hawks. Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Sikorsky are competing; the program has an estimated total value of $15 billion. The Air Force wants the first squadron in the field no later than September 2014. Gray said that CSAR-X program officials have applied lessons from the Government Accountability Office’s ruling in the KC-X tanker protest. While program officials “feel pretty comfortable that there is nothing externally that needed to be fixed,” they want to improve the way the service documents [program] decisions, “so there are no disconnects,” he said.