The US Air Force has settled on the HH-60W designation for its future fleet of Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk-derived combat rescue helicopters (CRH), some five years before it will start taking delivery of the new type.
Announced on 24 November, the step will lead to the “-60 Whiskey” replacing the air force’s current fleet of HH-60G Pave Hawks in performing the personnel recovery role. These entered use from 1982.
“The official name of the HH-60W will be determined at a later date,” says the USAF, which will eventually operate a fleet of up to 112 of the new rotorcraft under a June 2014 deal worth a potential $7.9 billion.
“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 air force says. “Using a tested platform already in production and integrating features currently in use on other aircraft will help control risk,” it adds.
A system requirements review for the CRH programme is due to be conducted during fiscal year 2015, with first deliveries of the new aircraft due to be made in FY2019.
Flightglobal's Ascend Fleets database records the USAF as having a current active fleet of 91 HH-60G Pave Hawks.