Jolly Inexperienced II rescue helicopter on observe for operational checks this month

Correction: This story has been up to date to right a reference to the helicopter’s forward-looking infrared system.

ORLANDO, Fla. — The U.S. Air Pressure’s subsequent fight rescue helicopter is anticipated to start its operational testing section by the tip of the month.

Sikorsky’s HH-60W Jolly Inexperienced II — the successor to the Air Pressure’s HH-60G Pave Hawk — has made appreciable progress, with greater than 40% of check and analysis efforts already accomplished, stated Darlene Costello, the Air Pressure’s principal deputy assistant secretary for acquisition, expertise and logistics.

That progress additionally features a accomplished certification of the Jolly Inexperienced II’s weapons, Costello added throughout a March 4 roundtable with reporters on the Air Pressure Affiliation’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida.

A check of its radar warning receivers is the final step earlier than the preliminary operational check and analysis section can start. The IOT&E section is anticipated to start by March 30, she stated.

The Pave Hawk has been flying because the late Eighties and it’s grown “lengthy within the tooth,” David Morgan, Sikorsky’s director for Air Pressure enterprise growth, informed Protection News in an interview at AFA. The service plans to purchase 113 Jolly Inexperienced II helicopters to exchange them, at a price of just about $7.6 billion.

It’s a spinoff of the Army’s H-60M Black Hawk and has many elements and options in widespread, making it simpler to search out spare elements, Morgan stated.

However Morgan stated the Jolly Inexperienced II will deliver main adjustments, making it a major improve from the Pave Hawk.

When the Air Pressure fielded the Pave Hawk, it purchased Black Hawks after which began closely modifying them over a interval of years for his or her new fight rescue mission, Morgan stated. The Jolly Inexperienced II, nonetheless, was designed from the begin to fly Air Pressure pararescue specialists on rescue missions, he stated.

“That is the primary Air Pressure-bought, -designed, -purpose-built helicopter rescue platform,” Morgan stated.

A part of that features a redesign of the Jolly Inexperienced II’s gas tanks to make them safer within the occasion of a crash than the Pave Hawk’s. Each helicopters will carry comparable quantities of gas, Morgan stated. However the Jolly Inexperienced II has an inside 644-gallon gas tank, practically double that of the Pave Hawk’s 360-gallon gas tank. The Pave Hawk’s gas capability is buttressed by a pair of auxiliary gas tanks strapped down contained in the cabin, Morgan stated. That takes up cabin house and may very well be harmful in a crash if the tanks broke unfastened and went flying.

The redesign has added a foot and a half of further cabin house, Morgan stated, and allowed the addition of a litter station. Conversely, within the Pave Hawk, he stated, airmen couldn’t put something up towards the auxiliary tanks.

The Jolly Inexperienced II additionally has new seats within the again that fold up into the ceiling and may stand up to the super power of a crash touchdown, he stated.

“Are you able to think about, the PJ [pararescue] rescue workforce, they’re sitting on ammo cans, they’re sitting on coiled-up quick ropes, and so they simply put a cargo strap over them,” Morgan stated. “That’s how they fly these days. Now, all people has seating. [It’s] crash-worthy. It’s a lot safer.”

The brand new helicopter makes use of an electrical hoist, which Morgan stated will enable it to function extra cycles with out overheating than the Pave Hawk’s hydraulic hoist.

The Jolly Inexperienced II was additionally created with its forward-looking infrared, radar and air-refueling techniques designed into the construction from the bottom up, moderately than “bolted on afterwards” because the Pave Hawk’s techniques had been, Morgan stated.

The Jolly Inexperienced II will embody a number of radios, satellite tv for pc communications, the Hyperlink 16 information and comms system, intelligence capabilities, low mild and infrared cameras, and a number of other multifunction shows, giving airmen the flexibility to quickly obtain and analyze data wanted to rescue a downed pilot or different survivor.

The Pave Hawk usually has to depend on its communication techniques — together with attempting to radio the survivor on the bottom — to get the coordinates for the rescue, Morgan stated. However with its superior information capabilities, the Jolly Inexperienced II will be capable to collect all the data it wants digitally and show it on multifunction shows with out having to speak to individuals.

“This plane is an data machine,” Morgan stated.

The helicopter’s open-architecture mission system additionally will make it simpler for the Air Pressure to improve it down the road, stated Bob Silva, Sikorsky’s enterprise growth lead for the fight rescue helicopter.

The Air Pressure thus far has ordered 66 helicopters in 4 tons from Sikorsky, which has delivered 17 helicopters, most just lately in January. Sikorsky expects to ship about one helicopter a month on common by means of lot 1, although he expects that to extend to about three helicopters each two months for tons 3 and 4.

Morgan expects the Air Pressure to begin ordering Jolly Inexperienced IIs for the Air Nationwide Guard and Air Pressure Reserve in lot 5, which can are available fiscal 2023. If the Air Pressure retains ordering helicopters at its present tempo, the final order may are available 2026 or 2027, and deliveries can be completed three years later, he stated.

Testing has taken place at a number of areas, together with Duke Area at Eglin Air Pressure Base in Florida. The helicopters’ radar warning receivers additionally underwent testing at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California.

Morgan stated preliminary operational functionality will probably be declared this 12 months.

The helicopter was named in tribute to the Vietnam-era Sikorsky HH-3E, which was painted inexperienced and nicknamed the Jolly Inexperienced Big.

Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter at Protection News. He beforehand reported for, protecting the Pentagon, particular operations and air warfare. Earlier than that, he lined U.S. Air Pressure management, personnel and operations for Air Pressure Occasions.