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US Air Force HH-60W Jolly Green II combat rescue helicopter conducts first aerial refueling

According to information released by the U.S. Air Force website on 10 August 2020, a new U.S. Air Force HH-60W Jolly Green II combat rescue helicopter has conducted its first aerial refueling with an HC-130J military aircraft tanker.

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US Air Force HH 60W Jolly Green II combat rescue helicopter conducts first aerial refueling 925 001 An 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)

Approximately 3,000 feet above Eglin Air Force Base, the HH-60W Jolly Green II connected with a HC-130J tanker for the inaugural aerial refueling by the Air Force’s newest combat search and rescue helicopter, August 5, 2020. 

The connection marked the start of two weeks of developmental testing of the aircraft’s aerial refueling abilities by 413th Flight Test Squadron testers and their mission partners. Throughout the tests, the aircrew and engineers will evaluate the helicopter’s ability to connect with the fuel drogue and its handling qualities during the fueling. They also monitor the functionality of the systems and gauges to ensure the aircraft receives the fuel appropriately with the proper pressures.

Maj. Andrew Fama, 413th FLTS pilot, was the Air Force pilot for the refueling mission. He evaluated the handling qualities and made the first contacts. He and the aircrew spent extra time preparing for the mission that included talking through the test sequence and rehearsing the phraseology used during the refueling. It was that extra time spent that made for a smooth mission without issues, according to Fama.

The aerial refueling mission marks yet another 2020 milestone for the HH-60W program. So far, the Jolly Green II has undergone radar, weather, and defensive system testing to name a few. The execution of this critical test is yet another demonstration of our successful partnership with the Air Force and brings us one step closer to delivering this much needed helicopter to the U.S. Air Force.

The HH-60W is the newest combat rescue helicopter of the U.S. Air Force, nicknamed “Jolly Green II,” following the legendary tradition of the Vietnam-era HH-3E Jolly Green and HH-53 Super Jolly Green crews who pioneered the combat search and rescue mission.

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.