Lockheed Martin Corp. reported that its Sikorsky HH-60W helicopter completed its first flight on May 17. It’s a modified version of the established UH-60M Black Hawk utility helicopter, customized for the U.S. Air Force’s combat rescue mission requirements.
The new helicopters are due to be introduced this year.
The total flight time was approximately 1.2 hours, including hover control checks, low-speed flight, and a pass over Sikorsky's West Palm Beach, Florida, airfield. "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," stated Dana Fiatarone, v.p., Sikorsky Army & Air Force Systems.
Sikorsky Aircraft is a Lockheed Martin subsidiary and the developer of the S-70 twin-engine, four-blade helicopter platform that is the basis for several military helicopter programs, including the Black Hawk, Sea Hawk, and Pave Hawk variants.
The HH-60W, or "Whiskey", is designed for combat search-and-rescue and personnel-recovery operations for all U.S. military services and allies. According to Sikorsky, the Whiskey will expand the Black Hawk’s versatility by doubling the internal fuel capacity without auxiliary fuel tanks, incorporate a weapons suite and more interior cabin space, and integrates defensive systems and sensors to provide a combination of range and survivability.
The new fuel system will give the USAF crews extended flight range and more capability to rescue combat injuries.
Also, HH-60W retains 100% commonality with all UH-60M engine and dynamic systems, so the aircraft will retain affordability over its full life-cycle.
The USAF has ordered 113 HH-60W helicopters to replace its HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters. Nine aircraft will be built at Sikorsky's Stratford, Conn., operation during the Engineering & Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase of the program, four EMD aircraft and five System Demonstration Test Articles (SDTA).
"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 program," stated Greg Hames, director of Sikorsky’s Combat Rescue Helicopter program.