Sikorsky HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter Makes Maiden Flight

Sikorsky HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

The Sikorsky HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter achieved first flight at Sikorsky's West Palm Beach, Florida site. The aircraft, based on the UH-60M Black Hawk, is customized for US Air Force's rescue missions.

Total flight time was approximately 1.2 hours and included hover control checks, low-speed flight, and a pass of the airfield.

The aircraft’s maiden flight paves the way for a Milestone C production decision in September 2019, per the original baseline schedule, to which both Sikorsky and the Air Force are committed. A second HH-60W helicopter is expected to enter flight test next week, with a third and fourth aircraft entering flight test this summer.

According to Sikorsky, the HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter is significantly more capable and reliable than its predecessor, the HH-60G Pave Hawk. 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 battlespace. The HH-60W specification drives more capable defensive systems, vulnerability reduction, weapons, cyber-security, environmental, and net-centric requirements than currently held by the HH-60G.

The US Air Force program of record calls for 113 helicopters to replace the Pave Hawks, which perform critical combat search and rescue and personnel recovery operations for all US military services. A total of nine aircraft will be built at Sikorsky's Stratford, Connecticut, facility during the Engineering & Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase of the program – four EMD aircraft and five System Demonstration Test Articles (SDTA).