The US Air Force (USAF) has declared initial operational capability (IOC) for the new HH-60W Jolly Green II combat rescue helicopter (CRH).

The IOC was approved by Air Combat Command (ACC) commander general Mark Kelly on 4 October.

A ceremony to mark the declaration of IOC was held by 23rd Wing at Moody Air Force Base (AFB) in Georgia, US.

The Moody AFB will be the first location to receive HH-60W helicopter.

With the latest milestone achievement, the USAF now has the required logistics and trained airmen to support the deployment of four HH-60W helicopters to any independent location for at least 30 days.

ACC operations director major general David Lyons said: “It’s an exciting day for Combat Rescue as we bring a new platform and its upgraded capabilities into operation.

“This declaration is the culmination of years of hard work and vision.

“Current and future combat environments require us to manoeuvre further and faster than ever before, and the capabilities provided by the Jolly Green II supports the platform’s viability for our Air Force Personnel Recovery core function for as long as possible.”

Named Jolly Green II in February 2020, the new HH-60W aircraft offers various enhanced capabilities than its predecessor HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter.

The Lockheed Martin company Sikorsky-built aircraft features advanced avionics, a new fuel system as well as improved survivability and range.

This digitally focused platform also provides faster data transfer and the enhanced capability to integrate with other platforms and combatant commands.

Together, all the new upgrades will allow the joint forces to conduct safer search and rescue operations and undertake complex personnel recovery missions.