Those common, vibrating “Thwip” helicopter sounds arrived well before they showed up, as 413th Flight Test Squadron personnel turned to look to the North at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., May 19, 2020.
Seconds later, two helicopters appeared and the sounds and vibrations intensified. The Air Force’s newest combat search and rescue helicopter, the HH-60W Jolly Green II, lead the way down the Duke Field runway. It was followed by the Army’s multi-role combat helicopter, the AH-64 Apache.
The two aircraft landed here completing their first flight and combined test mission together.
The Apache, from Redstone Army Test Center in Alabama, flew in for system testing with the HH-60W.
“The unique configuration of the AH-64 Apache gave our team the opportunity to test capabilities of the HH-60W in ways normally not possible here,” said Christopher Martin, 413th FLTS HH-60W Lead Test Engineer “Tests like these will ensure the Jolly Green II will be able to perform its critical combat search and rescue mission when fielded in the joint warfighting environment.”
The joint service test-effort marks another milestone in Jolly Green II’s development. This year, the new helicopter has completed extreme environment, communications and defense system testing just to name a few.
The 413th FLTS leads the HH-60W integrated test team along with members of Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, 88th Test and Evaluation Squadron, Detachment 2, and Air Force Operational Test Center.
“We are very proud of the work our integrated test team accomplished in 2020 despite a myriad of operational restrictions due to COVID-19,” said Shawn Hammond, HH-60W test program manager. “The team’s success is due to a mission-focused mindset to ensure the crews flying the Jolly Green II into combat have the most reliable and capable helicopter for the job.”