The new Sikorsky HH-60W combat rescue helicopter was cleared for initial production after receiving approval from the U.S. Air Force, Lockheed Martin said on Tuesday.
The HH-60W combat rescue helicopter recently achieved a Milestone C decision from the Air Force after more than 70 hours of envelope expansion flights, moving the program into low rate initial production, the September 24 press release said.
The new helicopter, based on the UH-60 Black Hawk and intended to replace the aging HH-60G Pave Hawk, will serve in combat search-and-rescue and personnel recovery operations for all U.S. military services, Lockheed said.
“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,” Sikorsky program director Greg Hames said.
There are currently five combat rescue helicopters in various stages of production, and the U.S. Air Force program calls for 113 new build helicopters to replace the Pave Hawk. Assembly of the first HH-60W began in February 2018.
The HH-60W features a new fuel system that nearly doubles capacity, allowing for extended range. It also has improvements for hover performance, electrical capacity, avionics, weapons, cyber-security and vulnerability reductions over the Pave Hawk, according to Lockheed.