Manufactured by Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., the HH-60W features advanced and improved defensive systems, vulnerability reduction, hover performance, electrical capacity, avionics, cooling, weapons, cybersecurity, environmental and net-centric requirements.
The primary mission of the HH-60W helicopter will be conducting day / night CSAR operations into hostile environments to recover isolated personnel during war. It will also carry out civil search and rescue operations, medical evacuation, disaster response and humanitarian assistance, among other things.
“This helicopter greatly increases our capabilities to train mission-ready aircrews and also provides better abilities for our 512th Rescue Squadron and the entire personnel recovery and special operations communities,” said Col Michael Curry, 58th Special Operations Wing (SOW) Commander.
Enhanced CSAR training
The ‘Jolly Green II’ is named after the Vietnam-era HH-3E ‘Jolly Green’ and HH-53 ‘Super Jolly Green’, whose crews pioneered the CSAR mission. Fittingly, therefore, the ‘Jolly Green II’ will be used to train the Air Force’s aircrew members.
“The diversity of aircrew training opportunities within New Mexico provides training conditions similar to current or potential operational conditions, ensuring airmen are prepared for any worldwide mission they are tasked to perform,” explained Curry. “The HH-60W augments our current aircraft – the CV-22, HC-130J, MC-130J, UH-1N, TH-1N and HH-60Gs.”
Improving crew survivability and mission success
Members of Detachment 2 of the 58th Operations Group are part of the organization formed to onboard the HH-60W under the 58th SOW.
Commenting on the new aircraft, Col John Baquet, 58th Maintenance Group Commander, said: “The ‘W’ version is a modernized, more capable version of the ‘G,’ with updated navigation and avionics packages. Technology advances are light years ahead of the ‘G,’ and have made improvements across all the different mission requirements this aircraft will face.”
Lt Col Brian Dicks, 512th Rescue Squadron Operations Officer responsible for the HH-60W training program, added: “It’s a leap forward in technology, between offensive and defensive weapon systems [the new full-motion HH-60W weapon system trainer is also being tested], crew survivability and the ability to plug into the fifth-generation hierarchy. Where the entire Air Force is moving into multi-domain – this gets us into that fight. We’re just finding more efficient, better ways to do the mission.”