During the Vietnam War, the Navy lost one aircraft for every 1.4 successful rescues and one airman for every 1.8 successful rescues. Unprepared for the challenge of combat search-and-rescue, the service experienced unacceptable losses and had to relearn hard lessons from mistakes that cost lives and equipment.
The Navy lost 109 aircraft during Vietnam rescue operations-27 helicopters and 82 supporting fixed-wing aircraft. It was widely agreed that the Navy's Vietnam experience was a classic example of how not to do it. As a result, the Navy attempted to develop its Combat SAR (CSAR) capability in an evolutionary manner and concentrated on avoiding the quick-reaction scenarios that greatly increase the inherent risk. The logic that it should take as much planning and effort to rescue downed personnel as it does to put weapons on target became ingrained in operational concepts.