Military and Strategic Journal
Issued by the Directorate of Morale Guidance at the General Command of the Armed Forces
United Arab Emirates
Founded in August 1971

2021-11-07

HH-60W Jolly Green II Flies High with Advanced Capabilities

The United States Air Force’s (USAF) new combat search and rescue (CSAR) helicopter, the HH-60W Jolly Green II, completed its developmental test programme at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida,  in April this year. 
 
Building on the state-of-the-art UH-60M Black Hawk, the highly modified HH-60W Jolly Green II has been customised for the USAF’s rescue mission and adds capability advancements to better support the full range of combat rescue and other special missions. 
The final test by the Sikorsky and USAF team was on the Jolly Green II’s weapon systems. The goal of that test was to both demonstrate the performance of the weapons while optimising weapon system configurations. 
 
Joe Whiteaker, the 413th Flight Test Squadron HH-60W flight chief, explained: “The timely completion of this test programme represents an amazing accomplishment by the HH-60W Integrated Test Team. The team consistently overcame tremendous adversity through a mix of innovation and sheer determination.”
 
The result of those labours ensured both the warfighter and the programme’s decision-makers were well-informed on the Jolly Green II’s performance.
The test efforts began in May 2019 with the first HH-60W flight.  
Some of the notable developmental tests were aircraft performance, communications systems, environmental test at McKinley Climatic Lab, aerial refuelling, data links, defensive systems, cabin systems, rescue hoist and live-fire of three weapon systems.
 
The test aircraft will be modified for operational use before being transferred to their respective USAF rescue unit. The USAF has a total of 8 HH-60W in flight now.
 
The Jolly Green II’s developmental test mission will move to the Combat Search and Rescue Combined Test Force for follow-on testing at Nellis USAF Base, Nevada in 2022.
 
Primary Mission
The HH-60W Jolly Green II will replace the USAF’s rapidly aging HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters which have performed non-stop CSAR and personnel recovery operations for all services since 1993. The original MH-60G first entered service in the early 1980’s.
Pave Hawks continue to deploy in support operations globally. With utilisation well beyond the aircraft’s original design and due to continuous operation in the most hostile environments, there has been extreme wear and tear on the Pave Hawk fleet.
Enter the new HH-60W Jolly Green II.
 
The primary mission of the HH-60W Jolly Green II will be conducting day or night operations in hostile environments to recover isolated personnel during war. The platform will also be tasked to perform military operations other than war, including civil search and rescue, medical evacuation, disaster response, humanitarian assistance, security cooperation/aviation advisory, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) space flight support, and rescue command and control.
 
Keeping on Track
It all started in June 2014, when the USAF awarded a US$1.2 billion engineering, manufacturing, and development contract to the Sikorsky-Lockheed Martin team to provide the next-generation combat rescue helicopter fleet. The three Jolly Green IIs are the first aircraft accepted by the USAF as part of the contract, resulting in 10 initial aircraft.
 
In September 2019, the Air Force awarded Sikorsky the Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Lot 1 contract for 10 Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) aircraft, followed by the LRIP Lot 2 contract award worth US$500m in February 2020 for 12 more HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopters.
“This second contract award demonstrates the confidence the U.S. Air Force has in Sikorsky’s  ability to deliver and support the next generation combat search and rescue helicopter,” stated Greg Hames, Sikorsky’s CRH Programme Director. “Our team works daily – and in close collaboration with our customer – to ensure we build and deliver this highly capable and much-needed helicopter to the warfighter.”
The HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter successfully performed various aerial refuelling tests in August 2020, completing flight test requirements and meeting all specifications.
 
Unique Design Approach
The 22,500 lb max gross weight of Jolly Green II allows for greater payload with a 660 gallon main fuel tank and air refuelling/fuel dump system. The helicopter incorporates improved structural design and is Shipboard compatible.
  
According to Sikorsky, it meets all USAF requirements, with a combat radius of 195 nautical miles; hot and high altitude hover at 4,000 feet PA (pressure altitude) and 95°F; unprecedented net-centric capability; and best-in class survivability and lethality. Jolly Green II’s litter stations are compliant to combat search and rescue mission. It is configurable for additional pararescue/troop transport. 
The HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter is more capable and reliable than its predecessor, the HH-60G Pave Hawk. It  builds upon the UH-60M’s versatility by doubling the internal fuel capacity without the use of space hungry auxiliary fuel tanks, giving the USAF crew extended range and more capability to rescue those injured in the battle space. 
 
The HH-60W features advanced and improved defensive systems, vulnerability reduction, hover performance, electrical capacity, avionics, cooling, weapons, cyber-security, expanded adverse weather sensor capabilities, and more comprehensive net-centric requirements than held by the HH-60G. It provides unprecedented combination of range and survivability.
 
Why is the above important? Operations in high-risk areas can be conducted with a higher degree of safety and certainty.  By retaining 100 per cent commonality with all UH-60M engine and dynamic systems, HH-60W provides the most sophisticated rotorcraft in the world at an  affordable price and total ownership cost over the entire life cycle. 
 
The final product is a purpose-built, world-wide deployable, CSAR platform, designed to execute within today’s high threat and  can accommodate two pilots, two gunners, two paramedics and two litters for medical patients or injured service members. 
 
Turbo-shaft Engines 
The powerplant of HH-60W integrates two General Electric T700-GE-701D turbo-shaft engines, each developing a maximum continuous power of 1,716shp (1,279kW) and offering enhanced performance in adverse weather conditions. 
The T700 military turboshafts have earned a reputation for exceptional performance in combat and under the worst environmental conditions. Designed to be rugged, reliable and easily maintainable, current T700 models apply advanced technology to an experience base of more than 50 million hours of operation. 
 
Three Primary Weapons 
Jolly Green II has three primary weapons. The weapons can be externally mounted for improved cabin space, maximum field of view and field of fire. It supports 7.62mm and .50 calibre fixed-forward and crew-served weapons.
A ground testing was done in September 2020, to verify the weapons systems functionality, accuracy, and to demonstrate the guns are safe to employ operationally.   
 
The three weapons tested were: the GAU-2, a 7.62mm gatling gun with a 3,000 rounds per minute fire rate, the GAU-18, a .50 calibre legacy machine gun with a 650-800 round fire rate, and the GAU-21, a .50 calibre newly-designed machine gun with a 950-1100 round fire rate.
The first HH-60W built, commonly referred to as Whiskey 1 within the unit, was used for the ground testing. Whiskey 1 contains specialised test instrumentation that allows, aircraft manufacturer, Sikorsky, to monitor hundreds of parameters during the flights and envelope expansion testing.  That specialised instrumentation allowed the testers to record the stress and strains in the aircraft caused by firing the weapons.
The helicopter’s guns can rotate independently providing an almost 360-degree firing arc.  This created a unique challenge for the squadron’s engineers to develop test and safety plans not typically encountered with fixed wing aircraft. Details such as blade rotation, human factors and instrumentation were examined and controlled for before the actual testing could begin according to Hull.
 
The Jolly Green’s aircrew not only operated the weapons, they were part of the evaluation as well.  The crew wore special instrumentation that measured the weapon’s blast effects on their bodies.  That data is part of a larger Department of Defense (DOD) study to better understand the effects of weapon blast on the human body, specifically as it relates to traumatic brain injury. The goal is to reduce injuries to service members who operate such weapons. 
 
Also protecting the aircraft against the densest threat environments is the advanced integrated defensive suite which includes APR-52 Digital Radar Warning Receiver, AVR-2B Laser Warning System and the AAR-57 Missile and Hostile Fire Warning System. 
 
System Advantage 
State-of-the-art mission systems of HH-60W include Link-16, Integrated Broadcast Receiver, Blue Forces Tracker, Integrated cockpit (4) and Cabin (3) displays. These systems reduce aircrew workload and improve effectiveness during highly demanding special missions. The multi-function displays (MFDs) on board the cockpit comply with the latest night-vision imaging system standards.
 

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