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In a tribute to its Vietnam War-era predecessor, the U.S. Air Force’s new HH-60W will carry the nickname Jolly Green II after the legendary combat search-and-rescue helicopter famous for plucking downed pilots from lush Vietnam War jungles.
The name was announced Feb. 27 after an HH-60W arrived at the Air Force Association’s annual Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida. A name reveal ceremony was hosted by service Secretary Barbara Barrett.
— Sikorsky (@Sikorsky) February 27, 2020
Ditching the “Hawk” in HH-60G Pave Hawk, not to mention the base-model UH-60 Black Hawk from which it was developed, the Whiskey model will take its name from the HH-3E “Jolly Green Giant.”
First hovering over Vietnam in 1967, the Jolly Green earned its nickname from the huge green footprints it left in jungle battlefields after taking off with a cargo of wounded or a downed fighter pilot. It was the first dedicated combat search-and-rescue helicopter outfitted with enhanced armor protection from ground fire and a rescue hoist.
The HH-3 continued service through the First Gulf War and retired completely by 1995. Eventually it was displaced by the heavier HH-53 Super Jolly Green, which in turn handed the CSAR mission to the current HH-60G Pave Hawk.
Nearly two decades of intense CSAR missions in Iraq and Afghanistan have worn out the G-model Pave Hawks, which required development of the purpose-built HH-60 Whiskey Jolly Green II.
“We respect the long tradition of assigning a moniker that communicates the CSAR mission. Jolly Green II is a fitting tribute to its history and to airmen and women worldwide,” said Dana Fiatarone, Sikorsky’s vice president for Army and Air Force systems. “The name is greatly respected by our workforce — past and present — and it’s an honor to build this critical aircraft for the Air Force and bring it to the symposium today to provide our customer with the opportunity to view the Jolly Green II in person.”
Sikorsky, a division of Lockheed Martin, capitalized on the naming ceremony to announce a $500 million deal with the Air Force to build a second lot of 12 low-rate initial production aircraft. Sikorsky is currently on contract to build 10 aircraft.
“This second contract award demonstrates the confidence the U.S. Air Force has in Sikorsky’s proven ability to deliver and support the next generation combat search-and-rescue helicopter,” said Greg Hames, Sikorsky’s CRH program director. “Our team works daily — and in close collaboration with our customer — to ensure we build and deliver this highly capable and much-needed helicopter to the warfighter.”
The program was approved to proceed with production by the Air Force in September 2019. A total of nine aircraft will be built at Sikorsky’s Stratford, Connecticut, facility during the Engineering & Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase of the program — four EMD aircraft and five System Demonstration Test Articles (SDTA).
Seven CRH aircraft are in flight, two of which are in flight test with the Air Force at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Low rate initial production of CRH Lot 1 aircraft major assembly is underway, with Lot 2 assembly to follow. The program remains on track to meet contract delivery of RAA in 2020, according to Sikorsky.
The Air Force plans to buy 113 HH-60Ws to replace its legacy Pave Hawks, which perform critical combat search and rescue and personnel recovery operations for all U.S. military services.