Sikorsky has delivered two HH-60W Combat Rescue helicopters to the US Air Force (USAF) 413th Flight Test Squadron located at Duke Field for developmental testing.
The HH-60W helicopters arrived at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) in Florida, US, from the Sikorsky Developmental Flight Center.
The helicopters will begin testing at the new home at Eglin AFB.
The five-hour flight to Eglin presented challenges to the aircrew as the HH-60W helicopter is not currently authorised to use instrument flight or its transponder.
During the entire flight, the aircrew operated the aircraft under visual flight rules (VFR) mode.
USAF 88th Test and Evaluation Squadron Detachment 2 pilot major Evan McNeal said: “We had to pick our way carefully through densely trafficked airspace while avoiding typical Florida fog and precipitation without the tools that many of the most basic modern aircraft have available.
“We mitigated those risks through careful mission planning and using available equipment.”
The Sikorsky-built HH-60W is based on the US Army’s UH-60M helicopter.
The aircraft has undergone modifications to support combat rescue and other special missions.
The USAF has plans to procure 113 HH-60Ws to replace its ageing HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters.
USAF 413th Flight Test Squadron operations officer lieutenant colonel Wayne Dirkes said: “Getting an HH-60W is very exciting not only for the 413th Flight Test Squadron, but also for the 96th Test Wing.
“Our entire test strategy has been adapted to include Sikorsky as a fully integrated partner, we have all put a lot of energy into trying to create a seamless execution model for testing here and now it’s time to make it happen.”