The Air Force’s newest combat rescue helicopter was suspended in a soundproof chamber at the Joint Preflight Integration of Munitions and Electronic Systems (J-PRIMES) facility in mid-November for defense system testing.
The 413th Flight Test Squadron’s HH-60W Whiskey spent approximately seven weeks testing the defensive systems upgrades from the legacy HH-60G Pave Hawk currently flown by Air Combat Command (ACC).
The J-PRIMES facility has the unique capability to capture high quality data on defensive systems by isolating the electromagnetic radiation inside the facility’s anechoic chamber. The chamber is a room designed to stop reflections of sound or electromagnetic waves and is insulated from external noise.
Testing the HH-60W Whiskey in J-PRIMES will characterize the performance of the helicopter’s systems before electronic warfare flight-testing. The tests ensure it is capable of defeating hostile threats while performing its designated combat Search and Rescue (SAR) mission.
The new aircraft arrived at the 96th Test Wing in early November. The Air Force is contracted to purchase 113 HH-60W Whiskey aircraft to replace its aging fleet of HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters.
The J-PRIMES facility hosts similar test missions throughout the year. The facility provides an environment to facilitate testing air-to-air and air-to-surface munitions and electronics systems on full-scale aircraft and land vehicles before open air testing.
The J-PRIMES test data will be used to support specification compliance and check for defensive system discrepancies or concerns.
This is an early, but critical step in the developmental process of the new HH-60W Whiskey. After J-PRIMES testing, this particular aircraft will begin flight test for its defensive systems.
«Developmental test has begun in earnest», said Joe Whiteaker, the squadron’s combat rescue helicopter flight commander. «Every new event brings us closer to getting this aircraft to the warfighter, which is what we are really focused on».