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».
Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, showcased the next generation Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) during a ceremony at its Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, this week.
During the event, United States Air Force General James M. Holmes, Commander, Air Combat Command, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia (91) described the HH-60W helicopter as critical took for the warfighter.
«I want to say thanks to everyone from Sikorsky for your dedication to your craft, for consistently living up to your mission statement of pioneering flight solutions that bring people home everywhere every time. And that partnership is incredibly valuable to us and the guys on the ground», General Holmes said. «We’re proud to work with you to deliver the most intuitive, precise, technologically advanced systems to our airmen».
Other dignitaries attending the event included Doctor Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics and Representative Brian Mast (R-FL) from Florida’s 18th District.
Prepared for Production
The achievement of the Milestone C production decision on September 24 launched the contract award known as Low Rate Initial Production for Sikorsky to build 10 CRH helicopters.
The U.S. Air Force program of record calls for 113 helicopters to replace the HH-60G PAVE HAWK, which perform critical combat search and rescue and personnel recovery operations for all U.S. military services.
«The Combat Rescue Helicopter is the new era in Air Force aviation and a pivotal milestone that ties to our company’s legacy of bringing people home», said Sikorsky President Dan Schultz. «Sikorsky employees and our nationwide supply chain are ready to begin producing, delivering and supporting this all-new aircraft for the warfighter».
The HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter is significantly more capable and reliable than its predecessor, the HH-60G.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 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.
«We send in brave men and women who are going to find a way to get the job done», Doctor Roper said. «But they’ll tell you about flying in and not being certain that they could land safely or putting the broad side of their vehicle between a downed pilot and gunfire. When you hear those stories, you realize that we put heroes on these vehicles. We pick up heroes in these vehicles and they deserve every technology advantage we can give them».
On Sept. 19, four pilots and four special mission aviators from the U.S. Air Force graduated from the Sikorsky Training Academy’s S-70i Transition Course. As previously qualified HH-60G Pave Hawk crews, the students learned about the unique systems and operating capabilities of the Sikorsky S-70i. During the four-week course, they each spent seven hours using a procedural trainer, 10 hours in a full-motion flight simulator and 10 hours of flight time in the S-70i aircraft.
To ensure mission readiness, Lockheed Martin will deliver a custom-tailored training system consisting of flight simulators, procedural and maintenance trainers and accompanying courseware.
In 2020, Lockheed Martin will train 200 U.S. Air Force and maintenance aircrew students at our Sikorsky Training Academy in Stuart, Fla. utilizing training systems and three newly built HH-60W aircraft. This will provide flight and maintenance training to initial cadre and units allowing the U.S. Air Force to remain vigilant while simultaneously fielding and employing the added capabilities of the HH-60W aircraft.