The U.S. Air Force’s new combat rescue helicopter, the Sikorsky HH-60W Jolly Green II, completed developmental tests earlier this week.
Tests were conducted at Eglin Air Force Base on April 13, the service announced today. The final test by the Sikorsky and Air Force team was on the aircraft’s weapon systems. The goal of the test was to both demonstrate the performance of the weapons while optimizing weapon-system configurations.
The HH-60W first flew in May 2019. The aircraft arrived at Eglin AFB to the 413th FLTS November 2019, although various tests took place in other locations. The integrated test team accumulated more than 1,100 flight test hours across six aircraft testing the full spectrum of aircraft systems.
Tests helped the Air Force evaluate the aircraft’s performance, communications systems, environmental tests at McKinley Climatic Lab, aerial refueling, data links, defensive systems, cabin systems, rescue hoist and live-fire of three weapon systems, says the service.
The test aircraft will be modified for operational use before being transferred to their respective Air Force rescue unit. The Jolly Green II’s developmental test mission will move to the Combat Search and Rescue Combined Test Force for follow-on testing at Nellis AFB, Nevada in 2022.
113 Jolly Green II choppers will replace old HH-60G Pave Hawks. The new aircraft is based on the Army’s UH-60M Black Hawk. It hosts a new fuel system that nearly doubles the capacity of the internal tank on a Black Hawk, giving the Air Force crew extended range and more capability to rescue injured troops.
The advanced variant has additional fuel tanks, giving it an unrefuelled 361km combat radius. An in-flight refuelling boom allows the helicopter to fly even farther. The aircraft also has countermeasures to protect against surface-to-air missiles, including digital radar warning receivers, a laser warning system and a missile and hostile-fire warning system.