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U.S. Air Force Declares HH-60W ‘Combat Ready’

  • Published
  • By Brian Brackens
  • Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Public Affairs
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – The HH-60W Jolly Green II was declared ‘combat ready’ on October 4 by Gen. Mark Kelly, commander of Air Combat Command (ACC).

The designation signifies that the newest combat rescue helicopter has achieved initial combat capability and meets ACC’s minimum requirements for the Combat Search and Rescue mission.

“Our team is very excited about this milestone,” said Lt. Col. Ellen Cronin, a Materiel Leader within the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Helicopter Program Office, which is leading efforts to field the Jolly Green II. “It’s an incredible aircraft, with enhanced capabilities that will significantly improve the Air Force’s combat search and rescue mission.”

The HH-60W – which is replacing the HH-60G Pave Hawk – has improved communication, navigation, and defensive systems.

It also comes with an upgrade in weapon systems, including the addition of the ability to fire the GAU-21, which did not exist on the previous platform.  The GAU-21 is a .50 caliber machine gun with an increased fire rate of 950-1100 rounds.

The program office is working on near and long-term capability upgrades for the HH-60W, including next-generation technology to prevent pilots from spatial disorientation mishaps due to degraded visual environments in the landing zone.

To date, 24 HH-60Ws have been delivered to ACC and Air Education and Training Command, with another five expected to be delivered by the end of the year.

“The program office team is extremely passionate about this program,” said Cronin. “And I think it’s because the combat search and rescue mission is such an honorable mission. I’m very proud of the team. They are experts at problem solving and moving the program ahead. They’ve done an excellent job in that aspect.”