Reliable, Ready: New Combat Search and Rescue Helos Will Bring Warfighters Home
U.S. Air Force takes delivery of first HH-60W Jolly Green II’s
A key milestone has been reached for Lockheed Martin – and the U.S. Air Force.
Last week, the Air Force took acceptance of its first three HH-60W “Jolly Green II” Combat Rescue Helicopters. The deliveries took place at Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky West Palm Beach site in Florida where the aircraft have undergone testing over the last 17 months.
Long anticipated by Air Force search and rescue squadrons, the new generation aircraft increases range, lethality, and offers a suite of technological advancements for added situational awareness, safety and reliability of missions, particularly in high threat environments.
Fully qualified systems in the HH-60W will allow the maintainers and pilots to greatly enhance their ability to safely operate the aircraft in any environment. The situational awareness gained from digital moving maps, threat overlays and aircraft defensive systems will help decrease some of the workload by the special mission aircrew, while they focus on executing the mission and allow the pilots to focus on operating the aircraft.
Aircrew from the 41st Rescue Squadron, 413th Flight Test Squadron and 88th Test and Evaluation Squadron flew two of the new aircraft to Moody Air Force Base in Georgia on Nov. 5, where they were welcomed by the 23d Wing and 347th Rescue Group. The third Jolly Green II, also accepted into service by the Air Force, will be ferried later this month.
Airmen with the 23d Wing check out their new HH-60W Jolly Green II Nov. 5, 2020, at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia; U.S. Air Force photo by Andrea Jenkins
“We are proud to deliver the U.S. Air Force its next generation Combat Rescue Helicopter – the Jolly Green II,” said Greg Hames, Director, Air Force Programs, Sikorsky. “This milestone has been long anticipated by our team since the Engineering and Manufacturing Development contract was awarded in 2014, and we are pleased to provide our customer with the advanced capabilities it needs to execute its critical combat search and rescue missions.”
Lockheed Martin will deliver two more Jolly Green IIs to the Air Force later in November.
The delivery of the new model is significant to the Air Force’s personnel recovery mission as it begins the transition from HH-60W’s predecessor, the HH-60G Pave Hawk, which has been flown for more than 26 years.
The Air Force’s first Jolly Green IIs make their way to Moody Air Force Base in Georgia; U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Hayden Legg
“We are proud to deliver the U.S. Air Force its next generation Combat Rescue Helicopter – the Jolly Green II.” ~ Greg Hames, Director, Air Force Programs, Sikorsky
A Long Time Coming
The HH-60W Jolly Green II will replace the Air Force’s rapidly aging HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters which have performed non-stop CSAR and personnel recovery operations for all services since 1993. The original MH-60G first entered service in the early 1980’s.
The primary mission of the H-60G Pave Hawk helicopter is to conduct day or night personnel recovery operations into hostile environments to recover isolated personnel during war. The Pave Hawk is also 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.
Pave Hawks continue to deploy in support operations around the globe. These aircraft have performed admirably, a testament to the men and women who fly, service and maintain these aircraft. With utilization well beyond the aircraft’s original design and due to continuous operation in the most hostile environments, there has been a result of extreme wear and tear on the Pave Hawk fleet.
Enter the new HH-60W Jolly Green II.
The Air Force’s first pair of Jolly Green IIs prepare to land at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia; U.S. Air Force photo by Andrea Jenkins
“With these new advanced capabilities, we are redefining combat rescue missions for the United States Armed Forces for years to come." ~ Greg Hames, Director, Air Force Programs, Sikorsky
Program Progress, Results Despite Challenging Times
The three Jolly Green II’s are the first aircraft accepted by the Air Force as part of the Engineering and Manufacturing Development contract, which was signed in 2014, resulting in 10 initial aircraft. In September 2019, the Air Force awarded Sikorsky the Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Lot 1 contract for 10 CRH aircraft, followed by the LRIP Lot 2 contract award in February 2020 for 12 more HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopters.
The performance of the Sikorsky team in continuing meeting requirements and program milestones have brought the Combat Rescue Program to where it is today – finally placing these critical aircraft in the hands of U.S. Air Force maintainers and warfighters for familiarization and seasoning. The Air Force can now prepare for their unique Initial Operational Training and Evaluation Testing, which is performed after possession of the aircraft is taken.
“I attribute this milestone to the Sikorsky Combat Rescue Helicopter team, our U.S. Air Force colleagues, and all those who supported this effort to deliver this aircraft to our men and women in uniform,” added Hames. “Getting these initial aircraft delivered in the most challenging and demanding of times makes this accomplishment that much more significant and is a testament to the effective partnership between Lockheed Martin and the Air Force.”
The HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter also successfully performed various aerial refueling tests in August, completing flight test requirements and meeting all specifications.
“Our efforts have resulted in the finest Combat Rescue Helicopters in the U.S. Armed Forces inventory,” concluded Hames. “We look forward to continuing our deliveries of the Jolly Green II and fulfilling our contract of 113 total aircraft.”
Sikorsky Pilots Bob Arsenault and Ben Williamson with Julian Cox, manufacturing flight operations manager, pose with the Air Force’s Jolly Green II
What Makes the HH-60W Jolly Green II Unique
Building on the state-of-the-art UH-60M Black Hawk, the HH-60W Jolly Green II adds capability advancements to better support the full range of combat rescue and other special missions.
- Designed to meet long-range and high threat requirements for the U.S. Air Force
- The HH-60W builds upon the UH-60M’s versatility by doubling the internal fuel capacity without the use of space hungry auxiliary fuel tanks
- Provides a robust weapons suite
- Integrates defensive systems and sensors to provide an unprecedented combination of range and survivability.
Why is the above important? Operations into high-risk areas can be conducted with a higher degree of safety and certainty. Additionally, retaining 100% commonality with all UH-60M engine and dynamic systems yields higher reliability and greater availability.
The new aircraft is contracted directly between the Air Force and Sikorsky/Lockheed Martin with important Air Force elemental designs being purpose-built into the baseline airframe while maintaining the legacy Black Hawk benchmark survivability and performance features.
The unique design approach on the HH-60W allowed Sikorsky and the Air Force to leverage existing UH-60M advancements and design characteristics that benefit the CSAR mission while enhancing those capabilities with unique mission system enhancements including:
- New fuel system
- Data links
- Mission processing
- Integrated defensive systems
The final product is a purpose-built, world-wide deployable, CSAR platform, designed to execute within today’s high threat, MDO construct.