Home Air New US HH-60W CSAR helicopter wraps up developmental testing

New US HH-60W CSAR helicopter wraps up developmental testing

HH-60W Jolly Green II first ever aerial refueling
An HH-60W Jolly Green II connected with a HC-130J tanker for its first ever aerial refueling over southern Alabama Aug. 5, 2020. Photo: US Air Force

HH-60W Jolly Green II, the US Air Force’s new combat search and rescue helicopter, completed its developmental test program on April 13, five months after the first two units were delivered to Moody Air Force Base.

The final test by the Sikorsky and Air Force team was on the aircraft’s weapon systems. The goal of that test was to both demonstrate the performance of the weapons while optimizing weapon system configurations.

“The timely completion of this test program represents an amazing accomplishment by the HH-60W Integrated Test Team,” said Joe Whiteaker, the 413th Flight Test Squadron HH-60W flight chief. “The team consistently overcame tremendous adversity through a mix of innovation and sheer determination.”

The result of those labors ensured both the warfighter and the program’s decision-makers were well-informed on the Jolly Green II’s performance.

The test efforts began in May 2019 with the first HH-60W flight. The aircraft arrived Eglin Air Force Base to the 413th FLTS in November 2019 although various tests took place in other locations. The integrated test team accumulated over 1,100 flight test hours across six aircraft testing the full spectrum of aircraft systems.

Some of the notable developmental tests were aircraft performance, communications systems, environmental test at McKinley Climatic Lab, aerial refueling, data links, defensive systems, cabin systems, rescue hoist and live-fire of three weapon systems.

The test aircraft located here, will be modified for operational use before being transferred to their respective Air Force rescue unit. The Jolly Green II’s developmental test mission will move to the Combat Search and Rescue Combined Test Force for follow-on testing at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada in 2022.

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

Based on the UH-60M Black Hawk and customized for the US Air Force’s rescue mission, the HH-60W helicopter will be replacing the HH-60G Pave Hawk model, which has been flown for more than 26 years.

The service plans to buy 108 HH-60Ws. Even as the helicopter is being fielded, the air force is planning up to $981 million for upgrades to the fleet.

As we reported earlier, the air force said in a justification and approval document that the first capability modification “must start in fiscal year 21,” as the helicopter, as it is now delivered, reflects a 2012 requirements baseline.

The service stated that the the upgrades would encompass, but will not be limited to, avionics (both hardware and software), structures, mandates, deficiency reports, diminishing manufacturing sources, and training systems.