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New combat rescue helicopter HH-60W to perform personnel recovery mission

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio (AFNS) -- The Air Force has officially designated the new combat rescue helicopter (CRH) as the HH-60W.

The need to acquire a new personnel recovery capability resulted in the June 2014 contract award to Sikorsky for eventual production and fielding of up to 112 aircraft with a potential value of approximately $7.9 billion.

"The formal designation of HH-60W for the Combat Rescue Helicopter is a significant step in the process for replacing the Air Force’s personnel recovery fleet of aging HH-60G helicopters," said Col. Michael J. Schmidt, the program executive officer for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and special operations forces. "The CRH program office is working hard to provide our warfighters the capability they require to continue to conduct the critical (personnel recovery) mission far into the future."

Under the management of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Sikorsky will develop a derivative of the UH-60M Black Hawk model for the Air Force's rescue mission. Like the UH-60M helicopter, the aircraft will feature T700-GE-701D engines, composite wide-chord main rotor blades, and fatigue- and corrosion-resistant machined aero-structures to sustain maneuverability at high-density altitudes. The aircraft will feature increased internal fuel capability, compared with today's HH-60G helicopter, thereby giving the HH-60W the required range, while increasing its internal cabin space.

The HH-60W, referred to as the 60-Whiskey, will replace HH-60G Pave Hawks which began service in 1982. The official name of the HH-60W will be determined at a later date.

"Successful execution of the combat rescue helicopter program is essential to meet the continued demanding personnel recovery mission in today's challenging operational environment," said J. David Schairbaum, the combat rescue helicopter system program manager. "The CRH program office is working closely with Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation to ensure the newly designated HH-60W is delivered to the warfighter on schedule and within cost."

Using a tested platform already in production and integrating features currently in use on other aircraft will help control risk according to program officials. The next major step, system requirements review, is scheduled for fiscal 2015, and initial deliveries are expected to begin in fiscal 2019.