Combat Rescue Helicopter program begins live-fire testing

By Sara Sirota / September 18, 2020 at 1:56 PM

The HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter program has begun on-the-ground, live-fire tests with the Sikorsky-built aircraft’s three primary guns, the Air Force revealed earlier this week.

The CRH is intended to replace the HH-60G Pave Hawk fleet as the Air Force’s primary search-and-rescue platform. The program is currently moving to complete formal developmental testing in December and start initial operational test and evaluation next spring with initial deliveries from the first production lot slated for next May.

The three-week live-fire test phase began Aug. 17 and took place at Eglin Air Force Base, FL, according to an Air Force news release. Airmen from the 413th Flight Test Squadron used the first HH-60W Sikorsky built -- called Whiskey 1 -- to evaluate the helicopter’s weapons.

“The helicopter’s guns can rotate independently providing an almost 360-degree firing arc,” the Air Force notice states. “This created a unique challenge for the squadron’s engineers to develop test and safety plans not typically encountered with fixed wing aircraft.”

More evaluations are expected to follow. An Air Force safety board will now assess data collected during the recent ground tests to authorize the CRH for live-fire flight testing, which is scheduled to occur later in 2020.