The first HH-60W combat rescue helicopter (CRH) for the USAF has made its first flight at Sikorsky’s West Palm Beach facility in Florida.
Based on the US Army’s latest UH-60M Black Hawk variant, the HH-60W will replace ageing HH-60G Pave Hawks that have been in service since the 1980s. The first HH-60W will be joined by three more flight test aircraft in the next couple of months, and the program is expected to meet its Milestone C production decision in September. Five System Demonstration Test Articles (SDTA) are expected to join the flight test aircraft for the project’s engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) program.
The HH-60W features a new fuel system with nearly double the fuel capacity of a UH-60M, as well as an air-to-air refuelling probe, more capable infra-red and electronic defensive systems, terrain-following radar, engine infra-red suppressors, additional ballistic protection, door-mounted and fixed weapons, and cyber-secure communications and sensors.
“The HH-60W’s first flight is the culmination of significant development and design advances. We are excited to now move forward to begin full aircraft system qualification via the flight test program,” said Greg Hames, director of the Combat Rescue Helicopter program. “Together with the Air Force, our team is motivated and committed to advancing this program and delivering this superior aircraft to our airmen and women.”
The USAF has a requirement for 113 HH-60Ws, with the first aircraft due to enter service form 2022.
Footage of the first flight can be viewed here.