USA USAF HH 60W SrA Hayden Legg 640HH-60W Jolly Green II CSAR helicopter completes development testing

The Sikorsky HH-60W Jolly Green II, United States Air Force’s new Combat Search And Rescue (CSAR) helicopter, completed its development test programme on 13 April 2021, five months after the first two units were delivered to the 347th Rescue Group (347th RQG) at Moody Air Force Base (GA).

The final test by the Sikorsky and Air Force team was on the aircraft’s weapon systems. “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 tests began in May 2019 with the first HH-60W flight. The Jolly Green II arrived at Eglin Air Force Base (FL), where it was delivered to the 413th Flight Test Squadron (FLTS) in November 2019. 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 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 will be modified for operational use before being transferred to their respective Air Force rescue unit. The Jolly Green II test mission will now move to the Combat Search and Rescue Combined Test Force for follow-on testing at Nellis Air Force Base (NV) in 2022. Based on the UH-60M Black Hawk and customised 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 over 26 years.

The USAF plans to buy 113 HH-60Ws. Even as the helicopter is being fielded, the air force is planning to spend USD 981 million for upgrades to the fleet. 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.

Photo: USAF/SrA Hayden Legg

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