The combat rescue helicopter is set to commence deployment with the US Air Force after completing a test and evaluation process.
The US Air Force (USAF) has confirmed Sikorsky’s HH-60W Jolly Green II Combat Rescue Helicopter has achieved initial operational capability (IOC).
The platform, set to replace the HH-60G Pave Hawk, was designed to enable the USAF to conduct rescue missions at greater ranges and in challenging environments.
According to Sikorsky, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, the platform has a significant range of increased capabilities over its predecessor.
These include expanded aerodynamic and hover performance, advanced survivability and defensive systems, higher resolution sensors, a larger main cabin and upgraded armour and ballistic protection.
Importantly, the incoming HH-60W also has a substantially greater range, with a 644-gallon main full tank compared to the 360-gallon main tank of its predecessor. It also boasts expanded communications capabilities including two tactical data links and intel receivers.
These features are tipped to support emerging Joint All-Domain Operations (JADO) requirements in near peer competition and win in conflict.
The next-generation helicopter is expected to be used to recover isolated personnel from hostile territory in varying conditions and across a “full range of threat environments”.
Nathalie Previte, vice president, Sikorsky army and air force systems, noted the significance of the IOC declaration.
“This declaration is a vote of confidence from US Air Force leadership and demonstrates the critical role of, and need for, the HH-60W,” Previte said.
“Sikorsky is committed to continuing deliveries of the Department of Defense’s only dedicated combat search and rescue (CSAR) helicopter and to provide the most capable platform to rescue crews who depend on this aircraft day in and day out to conduct vital life-saving missions.”
The IOC declaration is the latest milestone for a Sikorsky platform, with the company recently announcing its S-92 helicopters — used in search and rescue, oil and gas transportation and VIP transportation — surpassed two million flight hours across deployments in 28 countries.
The S-92’s use has increased over the past decade, with the platform achieving one million flight hours in just six years, compared to the first million — achieved 12 years after the platform entered service.