Lockheed Martin officials have announced the Sikorsky HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) program achieved a Milestone C decision from the U.S. Air Force, which moves the program into low-rate initial production. The CRH will perform critical combat search and rescue and personnel recovery operations for all U.S. military services.
The four instrumented test aircraft at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, demonstrated their production readiness during rigorous U.S. Air Force (USAF) performance and flight load survey testing. The joint Sikorsky and USAF flight test team has executed more than 150 hours of envelope expansion flights, which provided the data necessary to allow Sikorsky to begin producing the aircraft, which is based on the Black Hawk helicopter.
Five CRH aircraft are in various stages of production at Sikorsky's Stratford facility. Sikorsky employees and a nationwide supply chain are ready to begin production and support delivering the aircraft.
The USAF program of record calls for 113 helicopters to replace its predecessor, the Sikorsky HH-60G PAVE Hawks.
The new CRH aircraft hosts a fuel system that nearly doubles the capacity of the internal tank on a UH-60M Black Hawk, giving the USAF crew extended range and more capability. The CRH offers more capable defensive systems and enhances hover performance, electrical capacity, avionics, cooling, weapons, cyber-security, environmental, and net-centric capabilities beyond the current HH-60G.
"We have just successfully gained approval to launch the production of a helicopter that will save the lives of our warfighters and our allies all over the world. This decision begins the transition to this more capable and reliable helicopter to fulfill the Air Force's mission to leave no one behind. I could not be more proud of our government-contractor team for making this happen," said Col. Dale R. White, program executive officer, USAF Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Special Operations Forces.