Oh dear, oh dear, it has already started! Let's start with a basic factoid: for a £450m budget, you'd be lucky to buy 10 Blackhawks, not the 20 that - reportedly - are required.
And please don't come back saying that a Blackhawk is $20m - that is for a non-flyable aircraft. The average cost for export customers is $60m - and even that does not cover everything. BTW, does anyone believe that the SF would be "happy" with a vanilla Blackhawk?
Unlikely... And once you start adding all that SF night flying stuff, your £450m budget looks even less adequate. So, quite frankly, SF/SBS "support" for the Blackhawk is looking pretty irrelevant.
What seems to be happening here is an old Service trick: sow stories that X is a done deal, so everyone goes, "OK, so it has been decided", and then does not question it. This is how Wedgetail was got through the procurement system - and look how well that went.
And shouldn't one look at the aircraft that are going to be replaced? So, Blackhawk (10t) replacing Gazelle (2t) as one example. And look at the roles and missions largely to be replaced: para-civil SAR, general purpose personnel transport, some ,light CAESEVAC.
Blackhawk looks rather like overkill for all of this. And one wee thing that DSF/SBS might not have understood: "The Rules" for defence procurement have now changed.
If a programme does not produce benefits for the economy, doers not aid the levelling up agenda, promote skills, employment, it doesn't get beyond first base - and Blackhawk meets none of these requirements.
And for anyone saying, "What SF wants, SF gets", their recent success in lobbying isn't good. The 16 SF-capable Chinooks were rejected in December as there was "no operational requirement", and then the C-130Js got cut. UK SF Exceptionalism doesn't seem to cut it today...

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