Sikorsky HH-60W combat rescue helicopter program passed a key Milestone C decision by the USAF on September 24, meaning the new helicopter can proceed to low rate initial production (LRIP).
The HH-60W is the latest version of the venerable H-60/S-70 Black Hawk family. The new aircraft features increased performance, an enhanced suite of sensors, avionics and communications, advanced self-protection systems, and increased internal fuel capacity in order to be able to penetrate contested airspace to rescue downed or wounded airmen and soldiers.
“This affirmative Milestone C decision validates the modifications to Sikorsky’s most successful Black Hawk helicopter, making it capable of saving downed airmen anytime, anywhere around the world,” Sikorsky program director, Greg Hames said in a statement. “This establishes the Combat Rescue Helicopter as a production program.”
USAF Program Executive Officer, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Special Operations Forces, Col Dale R. White added, “We have just successfully gained approval to launch the production of a helicopter that will save the lives of our warfighters and our allies all over the world. This decision begins the transition to this more capable and reliable helicopter to fulfil the Air Force’s mission to leave no one behind. I could not be more proud of our government-contractor team for making this happen.”
There are currently four instrumented HH-60W flight-test aircraft flying, and a further five machines in various stages of production. The USAF has a requirement for 113 CRHs to replace the HH-60G Pave Hawk which has been in service with the USAF since the 1980s.