The Combat Rescue Helicopter, designed by Sikorsky, will perform critical combat search and rescue and personnel recovery operations for all U.S. military services. Artist rendering courtesy of Sikorsky
Sikorsky’s HH-60W can now prepare for assembly, test and evaluation, Lockheed Martin said. The U.S. Air Force Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) project has successfully reached air vehicle critical design review.
"This milestone is an important achievement and demonstrates Sikorsky and the Air Force are well aligned on the technical requirements of the HH-60W," said Tim Healy, Sikorsky CRH program director. "We got here by conducting several milestones on or ahead of schedule, and we are committed to staying on that track as we build the first HH-60W aircraft."
To prepare for the review, the joint Sikorsky and Air Force helicopter program team generated more than 300 technical documents, created and reviewed more than 50,000 hardware and software requirements, conducted 17 sub-system critical design reviews, and designed 3,000 new parts, Lockheed Martin said. The design review involved team and other representatives from the Air Force and key suppliers who took part in the technical presentations. Lockheed Martin said throughout the review, the team “successfully presented a design that participants were confident would meet system requirements.
"The joint team did an outstanding job in documenting the design of the HH-60W," said Jim Andrews, Sikorsky CRH chief engineer. "We are excited to enter the build phase as the team has leveraged digital design tools to generate manufacturing efficiencies that will reduce cost and schedule. This approach will lead ultimately to the HH-60W becoming the first Black Hawk derivative to have a paperless assembly line."
The service, R&WI contributor Pat Host noted July 2016, has a history of tribulations when fielding new rotorcraft. The need to replace its aging fleet of HH-60G Pave Hawks — which perform combat search and rescue, and personal recovery operations for all U.S. military services — was identified in 1999. The process was stalled in the following years, with contracting missteps, award protests and cancellation of the combat search and rescue program, CSAR-X, for which Boeing’s CH-47 had been selected.
Requests for proposal were issued in 2010 for the CRH, and in 2014, the Air Force awarded Sikorsky a $1.28 billion contract for engineering, manufacturing and development for its next-generation combat rescue platform and mission systems. (Bell Helicopter, Boeing, AgustaWestland and EADS withdrew from the competition, arguing the specifications favored Sikorsky’s H-60, Host wrote.)
The contract covers delivery of four HH-60Ws, aircrew and maintenance training systems and support. In January, the Air Force proceeded with a contract option, worth $203 million, for five more aircraft. The total program of record calls for 112 rotorcraft. The initial operational capability goal was set for 2021. The teams from Sikorsky and the Air Force will meet again in September for the training systems critical design review.
The HH-60W is an advanced variant of the UH-60M Black Hawk, Lockheed Martin said. It features increased internal fuel capability. The HH-60W is powered by GE T700-701D engines, and has composite wide-chord main rotor blades and a new fatigue- and corrosion-resistant machined aero-structure. Other features include an advanced tactical mission kit with sensors, data links, defense systems and other intelligence information sources.