The US Air Force’s (USAF) 563rd Rescue Group (RQG) has received the first HH-60W helicopter from the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) Sikorsky Aircraft.

DCMA Sikorsky Aircraft is responsible for accepting and delivering around 120 aircraft annually on behalf of government enterprises.

Developed by Lockheed Martin company Sikorsky, the HH-60W Jolly Green II combat rescue helicopter (CRH) was delivered on 11 August.

Following this development, the delivery crew flew the aircraft from Connecticut to Nellis Air Force Base (AFB), Nevada. The helicopter will be fielded by the 563rd RQG’s 66th Rescue Squadron (RQS).

The 563rd RQG is the only active-duty rescue wing responsible to undertake combat search and rescue missions. It is stationed at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, US. 

DCMA Sikorsky Aircraft commander and US Navy captain Dan Short said: “The best part was seeing young mechanics’ excitement about how this brand-new airframe will improve maintainability compared to their HH-60Gs.

“It’s very rewarding when you get the opportunity to see the impact of our efforts at ground level.”

The new helicopter has been developed to provide various enhanced capabilities and features, compared to its predecessor HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter.

The HH-60W Jolly Green II CRH includes an upgraded frame and avionics that will enhance the existing capabilities of the squadron to conduct training and execute combat rescue missions.

USAF 66th RQS mission pilot captain Jose Martinez said: “A new bird, fresh off the lot, with zero hours on it, will improve flight percentages due to reduced maintenance hours.

“The rescue squadron pilots are looking forward to a glass cockpit, which is a giant improvement over steam gauges used in HH-60G.”

Last month, the USAF declared initial operational capability for HH-60W aircraft.