Sikorsky HH-60W CRH gets approval to enter production

Sikorsky HH-60W CRH
The Sikorsky HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopters come in to land. Photo credit: Sikorsky 

After many hours of rigorous flight testing, the US Air Force (USAF) has given the Sikorsky HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) a Milestone C decision; the helicopter has been approved to enter production

The HH-60W CRH is intended to provide US military services with critical combat search and rescue and personal recovery operations. The aircraft demonstrated their production readiness during USAF performance and flight load survey testing at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. A total of over 150 hours flight testing provided the USAF with the necessary data to execute a Milestone C decision – allowing Sikorsky to begin production on the aircraft, which is based on the BLACK HAWK helicopter.

"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," said Greg Hames, Sikorsky Program Director. "This establishes the CRH as a production programme."

The USAF programme of record calls for 113 helicopters to replace its predecessor, the Sikorsky HH-60G PAVE HAWKS. The new HH-60W CRH hosts a new fuel system that nearly doubles the capacity of the internal tank on a UH-60M BLACK HAWK, giving the USAF crew extended range and more capability to rescue those injured in the battle space. The CRH specification drives more capable defensive systems and enhances the vulnerability reductions, hover performance, electrical capacity, avionics, cooling, weapons, cyber-security, environmental and net-centric capabilities beyond the current HH-60G.

"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 fulfill 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," said Col. Dale R. White, Program Executive Officer, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Special Operations Forces, USAF.

At the time of writing. there are five CRH in various stages of production at Sikorsky’s Stratford facility.