The US Air Force’s (USAF’s) new combat search and rescue helicopter, the Sikorsky HH-60W Jolly Green II, has completed its developmental test programme at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) in Florida.
The base announced the milestone on April 15, stating that completion had been achieved two days earlier. The final test by the Sikorsky and USAF team was on the aircraft’s weapon systems. The goal of that test was to both demonstrate the performance of the weapons while optimizing weapon system configurations.
Joe Whiteaker, the 413th Flight Test Squadron (FLTS) HH-60W flight chief, said: “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 on May 17, 2019, with the first HH-60W flight. The aircraft arrived at Eglin to join the 413th FLTS on November 6, 2019, although various tests took place in other locations. The integrated test team accumulated over 1,100 flight test hours across six aircraft testing the full spectrum of aircraft systems.
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 located at Eglin will be modified for operational use before being transferred to their respective USAF rescue unit. 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 AFB, Nevada, in 2022.
Lt Col Wayne Dirkes, the 413th FLTS commander, said: “I am incredibly proud of the many people from so many organizations who have come together to pull off a really challenging test programme. The team’s relentless focus on keeping the end in mind, aligning activity with their goals and moving forward quickly with discipline resulted in execution of a safe and highly successful test programme in the face of incredible pressure.”