Lockheed Martin announced on 30 May that it has reached a key milestone – the Air Vehicle Critical Design Review (CDR) – for the US Air Force’s Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) programme. This event prepares the programme to proceed to assembly, test, and evaluation of the HH-60W helicopter, a Black Hawk derivative.
The joint Sikorsky and US Air Force (USAF) helicopter programme team met in May with key partners from government and industry for an in-depth design review, said Lockheed Martin. The firm said that throughout the review, the CRH team successfully presented a design that participants were confident would meet system requirements. Review participants included leaders from USAF and key suppliers who took part in the technical presentations.
Dave Schairbaum, USAF CRH system programme manager, said: “Conducting the Air Vehicle CDR demonstrates this helicopter system is well on its way to meeting the key programme requirements of the Air Force. Successful execution of the programme is essential to meet the continued demanding personnel recovery mission in today’s challenging operational environment. We are working closely with Sikorsky to assure this newly designed aircraft meets the requirements, is affordable and is delivered on schedule to the warfighter.”
In preparation for the CDR, the joint team generated more than 300 technical documents, created and reviewed over 50,000 hardware and software requirements, conducted 17 sub-system CDRs and designed 3,000 new parts, said Lockheed Martin. The USAF awarded Sikorsky the $1.28 billion Engineering Manufacturing & Development (EMD) contract in June 2014, which includes development and integration of the next generation combat rescue platform and mission systems, delivery of four HH-60W helicopters, aircrew and maintenance training systems, and support for both, said the firm. In January 2017, the USAF exercised a $203 million contract option with Sikorsky to provide five additional aircraft, bringing the total to nine. The training suite includes devices that span full-motion simulators and discrete aircraft systems, such as hoist and landing gear. The USAF Program of Record calls for 112 helicopters to replace the Air Force’s ageing HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, which perform critical combat search and rescue and personnel recovery operations for all US military services.
The HH-60W is an upgraded variant of the UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter design featuring increased internal fuel capability for greater range, GE T700-701D engines, and composite wide-chord main rotor blades to sustain manoeuvrability at high density altitudes. The aircraft is designed with a weapons and cabin configuration specifically optimized for combat rescue and recovery operations.
The CRH and USAF teams will meet again in September for the Training Systems Critical Design Review.