The Air Force personnel were selected to perform optionally relevant developmental testing of the aircraft, as the Air Force is due to replace its ageing fleet of HH-60G helicopters with 113 of the HH-60W helicopters.
The new aircraft is modified to perform search and rescue missions, locating and rescuing downed pilots in hostile territory.
“Performance testing requires extremely precise aircraft control, and our test pilot-maintained tolerances of plus or minus 1 knot of airspeed, 20 feet of altitude, and less than 100 feet per minute vertical speed, flying by hand,” said Lt Col Wayne Dirkes, 413th FLTS Operations Officer.
There are six aircraft dedicated to the developmental test programme. The 413th’s HH-60W operations are scheduled to begin at Duke Field this autumn.