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Lockheed bags deal for 12 more HH-60Ws as the helicopter gets its Air Force name

Jolly Green II combat rescue helicopter
Photo: Lockheed Martin

The US Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin a contract for the construction of an additional 12 HH-60W combat rescue helicopters under a second Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) contract award.

Valued at over $500 million, the award follows a string of significant program milestones in 2019, including first flight, a Milestone C decision by the Air Force, and award of the first Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) contract for 10 aircraft.

The HH-60W is an all-new helicopter based on the UH-60M Black Hawk and customized for the US Air Force’s rescue mission.

“This second contract award demonstrates the confidence the U.S. Air Force has in Sikorsky’s proven ability to deliver and support the next generation combat search and rescue helicopter,” said Greg Hames, Sikorsky’s CRH Program Director. “Our team works daily – and in close collaboration with our customer – to ensure we build and deliver this highly capable and much-needed helicopter to the warfighter.”

Jolly Green II

On February 27, the Air Force revealed that the helicopter fleet would be known as Jolly Green II, following the tradition of the Vietnam-era HH-3E Jolly Green and HH-53 Super Jolly Green crews who pioneered the combat search and rescue mission.

Secretary of the Air Force Barbara M. Barrett revealed the name at the 2020 Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando.

“We respect the long tradition of assigning a moniker that communicates the CSAR mission. Jolly Green II is a fitting tribute to its history and to airmen and women worldwide,” said Dana Fiatarone, Sikorsky’s Vice President, Army and Air Force Systems.

Since achieving the Milestone C decision from the Air Force in September 2019, which moved the CRH program into low rate initial production, the program continues to progress, reaching milestones and executing its flight test schedule.

Currently seven CRH aircraft are in flight, two of which are with the Air Force at Duke Field, Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, with all aircraft engaging in expanded flight tests to support the path forward to Required Assets Available (RAA).

The HH-60W is significantly more capable and reliable than its predecessor, the HH-60G Pave Hawk. The aircraft hosts a new fuel system that nearly doubles the capacity of the main fuel tank on a UH-60M Black Hawk, giving the Air Force crew extended range and more capability to rescue those injured in the battle space. The HH-60W specification drives more capable defensive systems, vulnerability reduction, weapons, cyber-security, environmental, expanded adverse weather sensor capabilities, and more comprehensive net-centric requirements than currently held by the HH-60G.

The US Air Force plans to buy 108 helicopters to replace the Pave Hawks, which perform critical combat search and rescue and personnel recovery operations for all US military services.

The first two units to be fielded will be the 41st Rescue Squadron at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, and the 512th Rescue Squadron at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico.