The U.S. Air Force (USAF) has declared initial operational capability (IOC) for the new HH-60W Jolly Green II combat rescue helicopter (CRH), validating the platform’s operational readiness to forward deploy Air Force rescue crews around the globe.
The declaration indicates that the USAF 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, according to Air Combat Command (ACC).
“This declaration is the culmination of years of hard work and vision. Current and future combat environments require us to maneuver further and faster than ever before, and the capabilities provided by the Jolly Green II support the platform’s viability for our Air Force Personnel Recovery core function for as long as possible,” said Maj. Gen. David Lyons, ACC director of operations.
Developed by Sikorsky, the new HH-60W Jolly Green II will replace the USAF’s current CSAR helicopter, the HH-60G Pave Hawk fleet. The HH-60W enables the U.S. Air Force to conduct rescue missions at greater ranges and in the most challenging environments and with increased survivability.
The HH-60W offers a range of improved capabilities over its predecessor, the HH-60G Pave Hawk. Leveraging the proven survivability and reliability of the H-60M Black Hawk, the HH-60W Jolly Green II incorporates advanced digital design techniques, open architecture for rapid mission system integration, an air refueling system, upgraded survivability and defensive systems, cabin and cockpit armor, and integrated weapons.
In addition, the rotorcraft has a larger internal fuel capacity of 644 gallons (2,928 liters) and does not utilize auxiliary fuel tanks. It can also be refueled mid-flight in order to offer an increased range. As a digitally focused platform, it also allows faster movement of data and better integration with other platforms and combatant command capabilities.
These upgrades will continue to enable safer search and rescue operations and provide the joint force with the capabilities needed to accomplish the complex and critical mission of personnel recovery.
“The future of Air Force Rescue is secure, and our team is ready to recover anybody, anytime, anywhere, against any adversary,” says Colonel Russ Cook, commander of the 23rd Wing, one of the first USAF units to receive Jolly Green IIs.