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HSC-85 Receives New Helicopter in Support of New Mission

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS110409-02

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher S. Johnson, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The Sailors of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 85 welcomed the arrival of their first HH-60H Sea Hawk helicopter to their squadron at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., April 7 as the command begins its transition to special operations mission support.

The HH-60H Sea Hawk, will replace the command's previous non-combat-deployable MH-60S (Block 1) Knight Hawk to better serve HSC-85's new role in global operations.

"The squadron is excited to begin the next phase of our transition," said Cmdr. Jay Gagne, HSC-85's commanding officer. "Unlike the MH-60S we have, the HH-60H is combat-deployable. It has Aircraft Survivability Equipment (ASE) and longer endurance unrefueled in addition to providing logistical support."

According to Gagne, the HH-60H has various advanced electronic defensive equipment and weapons capabilities. A Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) is used to scan for lost personnel or enemy vessels and incorporates a laser designator for painting targets for up to 4 AGM-144 Hellfire missiles. Radar and laser warning-receivers, infrared jammer and flare dispensers increase the HH-60H's survivability.

Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic Jeff Lapinski, HSC-85's Maintenance Chief, said that the HH-60H will be a valuable asset to our command's new mission.

"Back when we were HSC-5, we deployed to places all over the Middle East to provide the SEALs with support and transportation," said Lapinski. "It's a good tool to help us play that role again."

The squadron is scheduled to receive seven HH-60Hs by the end of fiscal year 2011, and will reach a final total of 12 aircraft at the end of the transition period. The squadron will also grow from 280 to 470 personnel.

While performing their new mission, the squadron will also continue to serve their role as a Navy Reserve squadron providing logistical support to 3rd Fleet, support for anti-submarine exercises, delivery and pickup for mobile underwater targets, and firefighting support for the state of California.

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