The declaration signifies that the USAF now possesses sufficient HH-60Ws, logistics requirements and trained Airmen to support a 30-day deployment to any independent location with a package of four aircraft.
Gen. Mark Kelly, commander of Air Combat Command, declared the HH-60W Jolly Green II has reached initial operational capability on Oct. 4, 2022.
Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company designed and manufactures the HH-60W, which enables the US Air Force (USAF) to conduct rescue missions at greater ranges and in the most challenging environments, and with increased survivability.
As told by Capt. Lauren Gao, Air Combat Command Public Affairs, in the article HH-60W reaches initial operational capability, the declaration signifies that the USAF now possesses sufficient HH-60Ws, logistics requirements and trained Airmen to support a 30-day deployment to any independent location with a package of four aircraft.
“It’s an exciting day for Combat Rescue as we bring a new platform and its upgraded capabilities into operation,” said Maj. Gen. David Lyons, Director of Operations at Air Combat Command. “This declaration is the culmination of years of hard work and vision. Current and future combat environments require us to maneuver further and faster than ever before, and the capabilities provided by the Jolly Green II supports the platform’s viability for our Air Force Personnel Recovery core function for as long as possible.”
“This declaration is a vote of confidence from U.S. Air Force leadership and demonstrates the critical role of and need for the HH-60W,” said Nathalie Previte, vice president, Sikorsky Army & Air Force Systems, in a Lockheed Martin news release. “Sikorsky is committed to continuing deliveries of the Department of Defense’s only dedicated combat search and rescue (CSAR) helicopter and to provide the most capable platform to rescue crews who depend on this aircraft day-in and day-out to conduct vital life-saving missions.”
The 23rd Wing at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, one of the first locations to receive the HH-60W, held a ceremony to mark the declaration on Sept. 9.
“The airmen of the 23rd Wing have done a tremendous job working with partners to get this aircraft combat ready on time,” said Col. Russ Cook, 23rd Wing commander. “Bottom line, the future of Air Force Rescue is secure, and our team is ready to recover anybody, anytime, anywhere, against any adversary.”
As the sole dedicated combat rescue platform in the Department of Defense, the Jolly Green II Combat Rescue Helicopter builds on the decades-long legacy of USAF combat rescue and recapitalizes the critical combat search and rescue fleet providing USAF combat rescue warriors with the best capability for their critical and demanding lifesaving mission. The HH-60W Jolly Green II, which is replacing the aging HH-60G Pavehawk, was specially built for the Air Force’s combat rescue mission based on fully-vetted operational requirements.
Leveraging the proven survivability and reliability of the H-60M Black Hawk, the HH-60W Jolly Green II incorporates advanced digital design techniques, an open architecture for rapid mission system integration, an air refueling system, upgraded survivability and defensive systems, cabin and cockpit armor, integrated weapons, and increases main fuel tank capacity to 644 gallons. These advanced technologies enable the Jolly Green II to meet the Combatant Commander’s demands of today and the emerging Joint All Domain Operations (JADO) requirements in near peer competition and win in conflict.
- Expanded aerodynamic and hover performance
- Increased main full tank – 644 gallons vs 360 gallons – and air refuellable for greater range
- Advanced and integrated survivability and defensive systems
- Expanded communications including two Tactical Datalinks & Intel Receivers for Net-centric connectivity to operate in the joint-all domain environment
- Higher resolution sensors
- Larger main cabin
- Upgraded armor and ballistic protection
Sikorsky has delivered 24 aircraft to the Air Force, including all Engineering & Manufacturing Development and Lot 1 aircraft. Lot 2 deliveries, comprised of 12 aircraft, began in June of this year. Sikorsky has been awarded four production lots to date, most recent recently Lot 4 for 14 aircraft in February 2022. The contract for Lot 5 for an additional 10 or more aircraft is expected to be awarded by the Air Force in 2023.
Photo credit: Lockheed Martin and Airman 1st Class Deanna Muir / U.S. Air Force