AIR WARFARE SYMPOSIUM NEWS: Combat Rescue Helo Gets New Name
Lockheed Martin photo
ORLANDO, Fla. — To honor the crews of the Vietnam-era HH-3E Jolly Green and HH-53 Super Jolly Green, the new HH-60W helicopter will be known as the Jolly Green II, Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett announced Feb. 27.
“If you reflect back on the 1960s when the rescue community first welcomed the Jolly Greens, these capabilities were stuff of science fiction,” she said during remarks at the Air Force Association’s annual Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida. “Those Jolly Green heroes braved impossible conditions and enemy fire to rescue downed airmen from the jungles of Vietnam — 122 rescues in 1965 alone.”
In recognition of their efforts, the service is naming its newest combat search-and-rescue helicopter the Jolly Green II, she said.
“The HH-60 Whiskey improves range and survivability for safer search-and-rescue operations everywhere, every time,” she said.
The Air Force plans to purchase approximately 108 systems, which are replacing the HH-60G Pave Hawk.
The Jolly Green II will have a primary mission of conducting day or night combat search-and-rescue missions to recover personnel. It will also perform non-combat operations, including civil search and rescue, medical evacuation, disaster response, humanitarian assistance, security cooperation/aviation advisory, space flight support and rescue command and control, according to the service.
The Jolly Green II includes technology upgrades such as the military tactical data link network Link-16, a new fuel system that nearly doubles the capacity of the internal tank on a UH-60M Black Hawk, greater un-refueled range and improved mission platforms such as defensive systems and enhanced situational awareness tools, according to the service.
The first platforms to enter service will be fielded by the 41st Rescue Squadron at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, and the 512th Rescue Squadron at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.
Initial operating capability is slated for the spring of 2022. Each air vehicle is expected to cost $47 million, according to the Air Force.
Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin-owned company, is the manufacturer of the system. First flight for the HH-60W occurred in May 2019. In September the aircraft achieved a Milestone C decision which moved the program into low-rate initial production.
Sikorsky announced Feb. 27 that it will build 12 HH-60Ws following a second LRIP contract award by the Air Force, known as Lot 2, valued at over $500 million.
Production for LRIP Lot 1 has already begun and the company is conducting major assembly, said Greg Hames, director of the combat rescue helicopter program at Sikorsky. First delivery will occur in the second quarter of fiscal year 2021.
The company is currently in the process of preparing a proposal for full-rate production of the HH-60W. That will be delivered to the Air Force by the end of this year, he said during a briefing with reporters.
So far the company has performed 480 flight hours on the aircraft, and it plans to continue to expand the flight envelope, Hames said.
Another major upcoming milestone for the aircraft is required assets available, or RAA, and is scheduled to occur in September or October, said Rum Morgan, director of business development for Army and Air Force systems at Sikorsky.
“That's the close out and delivery of the [engineering and manufacturing development] contract,” he said.