USAF's Combat Rescue Helicopter completes developmental testing

By Sara Sirota / April 15, 2021 at 2:47 PM

The Air Force finished the HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter's nearly two-year developmental test program earlier this week -- a significant milestone for the service's new fleet of personnel recovery aircraft.

The final test evaluated the Sikorsky-built helicopter's weapon systems at Eglin Air Force Base, FL, according to a press release the service issued today. Since DT began in May 2019, a combined Air Force-Sikorsky team accumulated more than 1,100 flight hours across six HH-60Ws.

The program completed DT a few months later than originally expected, as the Air Force had limited access to government ranges to examine the CRH's defensive systems, including at Naval Air Weapons Station, CA, where the service tested the helicopter's radar warning receiver.

The Air Force will modify the test aircraft at Eglin AFB before transferring them to their rescue units, the release states. Follow-on testing is slated to begin in 2022 at Nellis AFB, NV.

The Air Force is already looking to upgrade the new helicopters with modern technologies that have emerged since the program was baselined in 2012, such as a degraded visual environment system. The service plans to award Sikorsky a contract for that effort in early 2022.