The first EMD Sikorsky HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter during its maiden flight yesterday, May 17, at West Palm Beach, Florida.
MAIDEN FLIGHT of the first Sikorsky HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter, serial number 14481, the first Engineering and Manufacturing Development aircraft, EMD-1, took place yesterday, May 17, at the manufacturer’s site in West Palm Beach, Florida. Total flight time was approximately 1.2 hours, which included hover control checks, low speed flight and a pass over the airfield.
The company noted that this is an important step toward bringing this all-new aircraft to service members to perform critical search and rescue operations. The helicopter, developed by Sikorsky and based on the proven UH-60M Black Hawk, is customized for the US Air Force ‘s rescue mission.
Dana Fiatarone, vice president, Sikorsky Army & Air Force Systems, said: “This achievement is yet another vital step toward a low rate initial production decision and getting this much-needed aircraft and its advanced capabilities to the warfighter. We are very pleased with the results of today’s flight and look forward to a productive and informative flight test programme.”
Today’s flight paves the way for a Milestone C production decision in September 2019, in accordance with the original baseline schedule, to which both Sikorsky and the USAF are committed. A second EMD HH-60W helicopter is expected to enter flight test next week, with a third and fourth aircraft following it into the air this summer. These aircraft will provide critical data over the course of the programme which will enable the USAF to make an informed production decision.
Greg Hames, director of the Combat Rescue Helicopter programme, said: “The HH-60W’s first flight is the culmination of significant development and design advances. We are excited to now move forward to begin full aircraft system qualification via the flight test programme.”
The HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter is significantly more capable and reliable than its predecessor, the HH-60G Pave Hawk. The aircraft hosts a new fuel system that nearly doubles the capacity of the internal tank on a UH-60M Black Hawk, giving the crew extended range and more capability to rescue those injured in the battle space. The HH-60W specification drives more capable defensive systems, vulnerability reduction, weapons, cyber-security, environmental and net-centric requirements than currently held by the HH-60G.
The US Air Force programme of record calls for 113 helicopters to replace the Pave Hawks, which perform critical combat search and rescue and personnel recovery operations for all US military services. A total of nine aircraft will be built at Sikorsky’s Stratford, Connecticut, facility during the EMD phase of the programme ― four EMD aircraft and five System Demonstration Test Articles (SDTA).