The US Air Force’s (USAF) newest combat rescue helicopter HH-60W has entered a soundproof chamber to undergo defence system testing.

The 413th Flight Test Squadron’s aircraft was suspended in the chamber at the Joint Preflight Integration of Munitions and Electronic Systems (J-PRIMES) facility in mid-November last year for testing.

HH-60W arrived at the 96th Test Wing last November and the unit spent about seven weeks testing the defensive systems upgrades from the HH-60G currently flown by Air Combat Command.

The J-PRIMES facility can isolate the electromagnetic radiation inside its anechoic chamber and capture high-quality data on defensive systems.

The soundproof chamber has been designed to stop reflections of sound or electromagnetic waves and is insulated from external noise.

By testing the HH-60W in J-PRIMES, its performance can be characterised prior to electronic warfare flight-testing.

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By GlobalData

The tests ensure that the helicopter can defeat hostile threats and perform its designated combat search and rescue mission.

413th Flight Test Squadron combat rescue helicopter flight commander Joe Whiteaker said: “Developmental test has begun in earnest. Every new event brings us closer to getting this aircraft to the warfighter, which is what we are really focused on.”

The USAF is contracted to procure 113 HH-60W aircraft to replace its ageing fleet of HH-60G helicopters.

J-PRIMES provides an environment for testing air-to-air and air-to-surface munitions and electronics systems on full-scale aircraft and land vehicles before open-air testing.

Specification compliance can be supported using the test data that also helps to check for defensive system discrepancies.

The testing serves as a critical step in the developmental process of the new HH-60W, after, which it will begin flight test for its defensive systems.