HH-60G Pave Hawk
The HH-60G Pave Hawk provides the capability of independent rescue operations in combat areas up to and including medium-threat environments. Recoveries are made by landing or by alternate means, such as rope ladder or hoist. Low-level tactical flight profiles are used to avoid threats. Night Vision Goggle (NVG) and Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) assisted low-level night operations and night water operation missions are performed by specially trained crews. The basic crew normally consists of 5: pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer, and two PJs. The aircraft can also carry 8-10 troops if required.
The primary mission of the HH-60G Pave Hawk is to recover isolated personnel, including downed aircrew, from hostile or denied territory. Rescue forces may also conduct other missions inherent in their capabilities to conduct personnel recovery, such as Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC), non-conventional assisted recovery, non-combatant evacuation operations, civil search and rescue, international aid, disaster/humanitarian relief, and insertion/extraction of combat forces. Prior to 2002, the HH-60G's primary wartime mission is combat search and rescue, infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of special operations forces in day, night or marginal weather conditions. After 2002, helicopters tasked with this mission, though essentially identical, were redesignated MH-60Gs. HH-60G Pave Hawks perform the combat search and rescue mission for the Air Force. The HH-60G provides USAF Combat Rescue forces with a vertical take-off and landing aircraft that is deployable and capable of main base and austere location operations for worldwide Search and Rescue and Joint personnel recovery missions. On-board weapons and defensive capabilities permit the HH-60G to operate in an increased threat environment. An in-flight refueling system will provide an airborne alert capability and extend its combat mission range.
HH-60G Pave Hawks are equipped with a rescue hoist with a 200-foot (60.7 meters) cable and 600-pound (270 kilograms) lift capacity. The helicopter hoist can recover survivors from a hover height of 200 feet above the ground or vertical landings can be accomplished into unprepared areas. The hoist can recover a Stokes litter patient or 3 people simultaneously on a jungle/forest penetrator.
The helicopter has limited self-protection provided by side window mounted weapons. These have included the M60, M240, GAU-2B/A, GAU-17/A, and GAU-21/A machine guns. The HH-60G Pave Hawk is most commonly equipped with 2 crew-served 7.62mm "Miniguns" mounted in the cabin windows. Also, 2 .50 caliber machine guns could be mounted in the cabin doors, though the stability when firing from this position was found to be less than ideal and the weapons limited ingress and egress from the main cabin. An APR-39A(V)1 radar warning receiver, ALQ-144A infrared jammer, Hover Infrared Suppression System (HIRSS), M130 chaff dispenser, and precision navigation equipment (GPS, Inertial Navigation System (INS), Doppler) afford additional threat avoidance and protection.
The maximum speed is 193 knots, with a cruise speed of 120 to 140 knots. Unrefueled range is 480 nautical miles, with a combat load and aircraft at maximum gross weight of 22,000 pounds. The combat radius is approximately 200 nautical miles. Inflight refueling greatly extends this range. HH-60G Pave Hawks are equipped with a retractable in-flight refueling probe and internal auxiliary fuel tanks.
All HH-60G's have an automatic flight control system to stabilize the aircraft in typical flight altitudes. They also have instrumentation and engine and rotor blade anti-ice systems for all-weather operation. The HH-60G is equipped with an all-weather radar, which enables the crew to avoid inclement weather. Pave Hawks are equipped with folding rotor blades and a tail stabilator for shipboard operations and to ease air transportability. The non-retractable landing gear consists of 2 main landing gears and a tail wheel. Aft sliding doors on each side of the troop and cargo compartment allow rapid loading and unloading. External loads can be carried on an 8,000-pound (3,600 kilograms) capacity cargo hook. The Pave Hawk can also be equipped with the External Stores Support System (ESSS).
HH-60G Pave Hawks participated in Operation Just Cause in Panama in 1989-1990. During Operation Desert Storm, HH-60G Pave Hawks provided combat recovery for coalition air forces in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Persian Gulf. They also provided emergency evacuation coverage for US Navy SEAL teams penetrating the Kuwait coast before the invasion.
During Operation Allied Force in the mid-1990s, HH-60G Pave Hawks provided continuous combat search and rescue coverage for NATO air forces, and successfully recovered two Air Force pilots who were isolated behind enemy lines.
Three Pave Hawks deployed in March 2000 to Mozambique, Africa, to support international flood relief operations. The HH-60Gs flew 240 missions in 17 days and delivered more than 160 tons of humanitarian relief supplies.
Following the events of 11 September 2001, HH-60G Pave Hawks deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and subsequently in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq.
After Hurricane Katrina in September 2005, more than 20 active-duty, Reserve, and National Guard HH-60G Pave Hawks were deployed to Jackson, Mississippi, in support of recovery operations in New Orleans and surrounding areas. HH-60G Pave Hawk crews flew 24-hour operations for nearly a month, saving more than 4,300 Americans from the post-hurricane devastation.
The USAF's HH-60G was stationed throughout the world. Major Commands operating the type included Air Force Reserve Command, the Air National Guard, Air Force Special Operations Command, Pacific Air Command, Air Force Material Command, Air Education and Training Command, and Air Combat Command. Air Combat Command was the lead command. As of 2002 there were no HH-60Gs in special operations, these aircraft having been redesignated as MH-60Gs. The HH-60G and the MH-60G were effectively identical, with the difference in designation reflecting their assignment to either the search and rescue mission or to the special operations forces support mission. The last squadron that had aircraft designated as HH-60Gs was the 55th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Florida. Besides a full complement of flightline support, home stations provided II and III level maintenance support functions. The HH-60G helicopter was a worldwide deployable aircraft. In deployment scenarios some locations would have full flightline support capabilities with limited backshop support, while other deployed sites would have less support, down to a bare base scenario. A flightline support contingent was deployed with the aircraft. Depending on the deployment location and duration, varying levels of backshop maintenance support might also be deployed.
The USAF's HH-60G was rapidly approaching its flying hour service life limit as of 2000. These low density, high demand platforms first entered service in 1981 and have been continuously deployed in support of operations throughout the world. Consequently, the Combat Air Force required either a service life extension program (SLEP) for HH-60G or procurement of a replacement aircraft for conducting combat search and rescue operations. The HH-60G System Program Office (WR-ALC/LU) assessed whether HH-60G's service life limit was 8,000 flight hours, in accordance with the Army specification for the H-60 airframe, or actually closer to 7,000 flight hours based upon Air Force configuration and operating gross weights of the HH-60G. Depending on the assessment results, HH-60G aircraft (1981 models) would begin reaching their service life limit as early as FY00, if service life limit was determined to be 7,000 flight hours. Otherwise, if the limit was determined to be 8,000 flight hours, 1981 model HH-60G aircraft would begin reaching their service life limit in FY03.
Air Combat Command (ACC) analyzed concepts/alternatives to assess their relative cost effectiveness and affordability for sustaining the US Air Force's combat search and rescue capability. After complete concepts/alternatives (aircraft platform-level, including subsystems, and support/training systems) were received, the Air Force analyzed those that provided the most opportunity to satisfy existing deficient mission capabilities while maintaining, as a minimum, existent combat search and rescue capability. A detailed Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) followed to ascertain whether or not the concepts/alternatives exceed/met/do not meet the specific measures of effectiveness. The AoA included modeling, simulation, and combat search and rescue scenarios projected for 2010. If this analysis resulted in the initiation of an acquisition program to procure a replacement for the HH-60G aircraft, the Initial Operational Capability (IOC) would be in place by the end of FY07.
In April 2006, the continental US search and rescue mission was transferred back to Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base, Va. From 2003 to 2006, the mission was under the Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field, Florida. Prior to this, the aircraft had been assigned to Air Combat Command.
The much needed replacement for the HH-60G was the new Combat Search and Rescue Replacement (CSAR-X) aircraft The initiation of CSAR-X Block 0 development was delayed several times, in part due to 2 bid protests filed at General Accountability Office (GAO). The Air Force awarded the Block 0 development contract to Boeing in November 2006, but a bid protest by competing contractors filed with GAO required the Air Force to suspend the beginning of product development activities. In February 2007, GAO sustained the protest. In response, the Air Force amended its request for proposals. However, the competitors filed another bid protest in response to the Air Force's amended request. This second protest was also sustained by GAO in August 2007. As a result, the Air Force had again amended the request for proposals in response to the protest. Further, the Air Force released another amendment in December 2008 to incorporate more changes and clarifications. In April 2009, the Secretary of Defense recommended canceling or curtailing all or part of at least a half dozen major defense acquisition programs, including the Air Force's CSAR-X program.
The purpose of the HH-60M Operational Loss Replacement (OLR) program was to initiate and support the acquisition of CSAR Operational Loss Replacement (OLR) helicopters to replace HH-60Gs lost through attrition. The acquisition strategy was to procure UH-60M aircraft from the Army and then procure modifications to bring the UH-60M aircraft to an acceptable configuration that was closer to the fielded HH-60G configuration. Modifications included but were not limited to: external guns, external hoist, refueling probe, avionics suite, communications suite, and defensive suites required for the HH-60 mission. Non-recurring engineering would be required for pre-production activities once the configuration is set.
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