The helicopter’s first flight included hover control checks, low speed flight and a pass of the airfield, and altogether the total flight time was approximately 1.2 hours.
“This achievement is yet another vital step toward a low-rate initial production decision and getting this much-needed aircraft and its advanced capabilities to the warfighter,” said Dana Fiatarone, Vice-President, Sikorsky Army & Air Force Systems. “We are very pleased with the results of today’s flight and look forward to a productive and informative flight test programme.”
The flight will be followed up with a further three of the aircraft entering flight testing this summer. The Air Force has called for 113 helicopters to replace the current HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters that undertake SAR military missions, and as such, these flight tests will provide critical data over the course of the programme that will enable the Air Force to make an informed production decision.
The HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter is the successor of the HH-60G Pave Hawk. It’s fuel system capacity nearly doubles that of the internal tank on a UH-60M Black Hawk, giving extended range and capability when it comes to rescuing those injured in the battle space. The HH-60W also drives more capable defensive systems, vulnerability reduction, weapons, cyber-security, environmental and net-centric requirements than currently held by the HH-60G.
“With the Combat Rescue Helicopter’s successful first flight now behind us, we look forward to completion of Sikorsky’s flight test programme, operational testing and production of this aircraft to support the Air Force’s critical rescue mission,” said Edward Stanhouse, Chief, US Air Force Helicopter Program Office. “Increased survivability is key and we greatly anticipate the added capabilities this aircraft will provide.”