The United States Air Force (USAF) has green-signalled production of Sikorsky HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopters (CRHs) after the aircraft completed the Air Force’s performance and flight load survey testing.
“The achievement of the Milestone C production decision on Sept. 24 launched the contract award known as Low Rate Initial Production for Sikorsky to build 10 CRH helicopters,” Lockheed Martin said in a statement.
The Air Force plans to buy 113 of these new helicopters to replace its predecessor, the Sikorsky HH-60G PAVE HAWKs.
The HH-60W helicopter will perform critical combat search and rescue and personnel recovery operations for all US military services.
The four instrumented test aircraft at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, demonstrated their production readiness during rigorous USAF performance and flight load survey testing.
The aircraft hosts a new fuel system that nearly doubles the capacity of the internal tank on a UH-60M BLACK HAWK, giving the Air Force crew extended range and more capability to rescue those injured in the battle space, the statement read.
According to the company, the HH-60W specification drives more capable defensive systems, vulnerability reduction, hover performance, electrical capacity, avionics, cooling, weapons, cyber-security, environmental and net-centric requirements than currently held by the HH-60G.
“The joint Sikorsky and USAF flight test team has executed over 150 hours of envelope expansion flights, which provided USAF the data necessary to execute a Milestone C decision. This decision allows Sikorsky to begin production of the aircraft, which is based on the venerable BLACK HAWK helicopter.”
“This affirmative Milestone C decision validates the modifications to Sikorsky’s most successful BLACK HAWK helicopter, making it capable of saving downed airmen anytime, anywhere around the world,” said Greg Hames, Sikorsky program director. “This establishes the Combat Rescue Helicopter as a production program.”