Home Air US Air Force begins transition to new combat search and rescue helicopter

US Air Force begins transition to new combat search and rescue helicopter

HH-60W Jolly Green II
An HH-60W Jolly Green II taxis at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., Nov. 5, 2020. Photo: US Air Force

The US Air Force officially started its transition to the HH-60W Jolly Green II as its new combat search and rescue helicopter as the 23rd Wing and 347th Rescue Group at Moody Air Force Base received the first two units.

The helicopters arrived at the base on November 5, after aircrew from the 41st Rescue Squadron out of Moody AFB and the 413th Flight Test Squadron and 88th Test and Evaluation Squadron flew the aircraft from Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky Training Academy.

Jolly Green II is replacing the HH-60G Pave Hawk model, which has been flown for more than 26 years.

The HH-60W features advanced and improved defensive systems, vulnerability reduction, hover performance, electrical capacity, avionics, cooling, weapons, cyber-security, environmental and net-centric requirements.

Based on the UH-60M Black Hawk and customized for the US Air Force’s rescue mission, the HH-60W helicopter will be conducting day or night operations into hostile environments to recover isolated personnel during war. The platform will also be tasked to perform military operations other than war, including civil search and rescue, medical evacuation, disaster response, humanitarian assistance, security cooperation/aviation advisory, NASA space-flight support, and rescue command and control.

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.

A total of 22 HH-60W are on order under Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) contracts that were awarded following the Milestone C decision by the Air Force in 2019.