LOCKHEED MARTIN announced yesterday, February 20, that its Sikorsky subsidiary is beginning final assembly of the first HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter for the US Air Force.Â The company said that timing of final assembly supports the programme’s accelerated schedule and means that first flight is expected at the end of this year, two months ahead of schedule.
Installation of the new Tactical Mission Kit (TMK) delivered from Lockheed Martin’s Owego, New York, facility, is part of the final assembly process. Â The integration of sensors, radar and multiple defence systems will bring added intelligence into the cockpit, giving pilots more information to make split second decisions to complete the mission.
The final assembly process also involves installation of a new fuel system that features duel internal fuel tanks totalling 660-gallons, nearly doubling the capacity of the internal tank compared to a UH-60M Black Hawk. Â This enhanced capability gives the US Air Force crew greater range and more capability to rescue those injured in the battle space.
This Engineering Manufacturing Development (EMD) aircraft, EMD-1, is the first to be assembled at the Sikorsky headquarters in Stratford, Connecticut. Â A total of nine aircraft will be built in Connecticut during the EMD phase of the programme â€• four EMD aircraft and five System Demonstration Test Articles (SDTA).
The US Air Force programme of record calls for 112 helicopters to replace the USAFâ€™s aging HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, which perform critical combat search and rescue and personnel recovery operations for all US.military services.
The $1.5 billion EMD and SDTA contract includes development and integration of the next generation combat rescue helicopter and mission systems, including delivery of nine HH-60W helicopters as well as six aircrew and maintenance training devices, and instructional courseware designed specifically for the HH-60W aircraft. Sikorsky successfully conducted the training systems design review last September.