US Air Force new combat search and rescue helicopter HH-60W Jolly Green II completes developmental testing

The US Air Force’s new combat search and rescue helicopter, the HH-60W Jolly Green II, completed its developmental test program April 13.

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US Air Force new combat search and rescue helicopter Jolly Green II completes developmental testing 01 HH-60W Jolly Green II (Picture source: US Air Force)

The final test by the Sikorsky and Air Force team was on the aircraft’s weapon systems. The goal of that test was to both demonstrate the performance of the weapons while optimizing weapon system configurations.

“The timely completion of this test program represents an amazing accomplishment by the HH-60W Integrated Test Team,” said Joe Whiteaker, the 413th Flight Test Squadron HH-60W flight chief. “The team consistently overcame tremendous adversity through a mix of innovation and sheer determination.”

The result of those labors ensured both the warfighter and the program’s decision-makers were well-informed on the Jolly Green II’s performance.

The test efforts began in May 2019 with the first HH-60W flight. The aircraft arrived here to the 413th FLTS in November 2019 although various tests took place in other locations. The integrated test team accumulated over 1,100 flight test hours across six aircraft testing the full spectrum of aircraft systems.

Some of the notable developmental tests were aircraft performance, communications systems, environmental test at McKinley Climatic Lab, aerial refueling, data links, defensive systems, cabin systems, rescue hoist and live-fire of three weapon systems of three weapon systems.

US Air Force new combat search and rescue helicopter Jolly Green II completes developmental testing 02

HH-60W Jolly Green II connects with an HC-130J tanker for its first aerial refueling over southern Alabama, August 5, 2020.(Picture source U.S Air Force)

The test aircraft located here, will be modified for operational use before being transferred to their respective Air Force rescue unit. The Jolly Green II’s developmental test mission will move to the Combat Search and Rescue Combined Test Force for follow-on testing at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada in 2022.

“I am incredibly proud of the many people from so many organizations who have come together to pull off a really challenging test program,” Lt. Col. Wayne Dirkes, the 413 FLTS commander. “The team’s relentless focus on keeping the end in mind, aligning activity with their goals and moving forward quickly with discipline resulted in execution of a safe and highly successful test program in the face of incredible pressure.”


The HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) is being developed based on the combat-proven UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter, by Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in co-operation with Lockheed Martin for the US Air Force’s (USAF) CRH program.

The HH-60W Jolly Green II offers an increased internal fuel capacity compared to the HH-60G helicopter. It delivers a longer range and offers a larger internal cabin space. It can accommodate two pilots, two gunners, two paramedics, and two litters for medical patients or injured service members. Either side of the fuselage can be mounted with .50 caliber and 7.62mm machine guns. It comes equipped with a wide range of capabilities that will ensure its crews continue carrying out their important rescue missions in contested and diverse environments.