The U.S. Air Force has declared that the Sikorsky HH-60W Jolly Green II combat rescue helicopter has reached initial operational capability (IOC). According to the Air Force, the announcement means it now “possesses sufficient HH-60Ws, logistics requirements and trained Airmen to support a 30-day deployment to any independent location with a package of four aircraft.” Sikorsky has delivered 24 HH-60Ws to the Air Force to date beginning with the handoff of the first production aircraft in May 2021.
“This declaration is a vote of confidence from U.S. Air Force leadership and demonstrates the critical role of and need for the HH-60W,” said Nathalie Previte, Sikorsky vice president for Army and Air Force systems. “Sikorsky is committed to continuing deliveries of the Department of Defense’s only dedicated combat search and rescue (CSAR) helicopter and to provide the most capable platform to rescue crews who depend on this aircraft day-in and day-out to conduct vital life-saving missions.”
Designed for combat search and rescue and personnel recovery operations, the HH-60W Jolly Green II will replace the Air Force’s aging HH-60G Pavehawk fleet. Improvements to the HH-60W include expanded aerodynamic and hover performance, an increase in main fuel tank capacity from 360 gallons to 644 gallons, upgraded survivability and defensive systems, improved armor and ballistic protection and a larger main cabin. The Air Force program of record calls for 113 HH-60Ws.