The US Air Force (USAF) has transferred new HH-60W Jolly Green II helicopters to Kadena, Japan, bringing the successor to the HH-60G Pave Hawk under PACAF on 26 January, announced US Indo-Pacific Command.
“All HH-60G models will be replaced on Kadena,” said US Air Force Master Sgt. Bryan Donnelly, who also said that the new models will be the new US standard for combat search and rescue nationwide.
The HH-60W, known as the ‘Whiskey’ model, incorporates new avionics and multi functional displays to provide critical flight data to the pilots, according to US Air Force Senior Airman Anthony Canlas, for conducting combat search and rescue mission in contested environments.
From first principles the HH-60W has been designed with integrated mission systems to suit this role. The new model is expected to perform under adverse weather conditions, in a variety of threat environments, including chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats.
The first HH-60W helicopters were delivered to the USAF in November 2022, following a request for proposals issued in October 2012 under the USAF Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) programme. Lockheed Martin and its subsidiary company Sikorsky teamed to complete development of four HH-60W under a $1.2bn award in 2014, with options for a further 113 helicopters.
The preliminary design review and critical design review were completed in 2016 and 2017, respectively, and the first flight was conducted in May 2019, before first Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) of ten helicopters was ordered in September 2019. The second LRIP for 12 more helicopters was granted in February 2020 in a contract worth $500m.
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In October 2023, Sikorsky won a $650m contract for the upgrade of the HH-60W to enhance the rotorcraft’s performance and mission critical systems, an including enhanced global positioning system to protect against jamming, and visual environment systems.
In December 2023, the US Congress passed the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which included a prohibition on force reduction in the HH-60W combat rescue helicopter.