Helicopters

Jolly Green II ready to enter service: USAF HH-60W combat rescue helicopter completes developmental testing

The HH-60W Jolly Green II test aircraft will be modified for operational use before being transferred to their respective Air Force rescue unit.

On Apr. 13, 2021 the US Air Force’s new combat search and rescue helicopter, the HH-60W Jolly Green II, completed its developmental test program at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB).

The final test by the Sikorsky and Air Force team was on the aircraft’s weapon systems. As told by Samuel King Jr., Eglin Air Force Base Public Affairs , in the article Jolly Green II completes developmental testing, the goal of the test was to both demonstrate the performance of the weapons while optimizing weapon-system configurations.

The test efforts began May 2019 with the first HH-60W flight. 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.

Some of the notable developmental tests included aircraft 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.

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.

Building on the state-of-the-art UH-60M Black Hawk, the HH-60W “Whiskey” (named ‘Jolly Green II’ to Honor the Legacy of ‘Vietnam-era Giants’) adds capability advancements to better support the full range of combat rescue and other special missions. Designed to meet long-range and high threat requirements for the USAF, the Whiskey will expand upon the legendary Black Hawk’s versatility by doubling the internal fuel capacity without the use of space hungry auxiliary fuel tanks, provides a robust weapons suite, and integrates defensive systems and sensors to provide an unprecedented combination of range and survivability. Additionally, by retaining 100% commonality with all UH-60M engine and dynamic systems, the aircraft provides the most sophisticated rotorcraft in the world at an extremely affordable price and total ownership cost over the entire life cycle.

The USAF program of record calls for 113 helicopters to replace the Air Force’s aging HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, which perform critical combat search and rescue and personnel recovery operations for all US military services and allies.

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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