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Sikorsky HH-60 Pave Hawk

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Title: Sikorsky HH-60 Pave Hawk  
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Subject: Sikorsky S-70, Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk, Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk, List of United States military helicopters, Sikorsky R-6
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Sikorsky HH-60 Pave Hawk

HH-60 / MH-60 Pave Hawk
U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk
Role Combat Search and Rescue helicopter
Manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation
Status In service
Primary users United States Air Force
Republic of Korea Air Force
Unit cost
US$15.8 million
Developed from Sikorsky S-70

The Sikorsky MH-60G/HH-60G Pave Hawk is a twin turboshaft engine helicopter in service with the United States Air Force. It is a derivative of the UH-60 Black Hawk and incorporates the US Air Force PAVE electronic systems program. The HH-60/MH-60 is a member of the Sikorsky S-70 family.

The MH-60G Pave Hawk's primary mission is insertion and recovery of special operations personnel, while the HH-60G Pave Hawk's core mission is recovery of personnel under stressful conditions, including search and rescue. Both versions conduct day or night operations into hostile environments. Because of its versatility, the HH-60G may also perform peace-time operations. Such tasks include civil search and rescue, emergency aeromedical evacuation (MEDEVAC), disaster relief, international aid, counter-drug activities and NASA space shuttle support.

Design and development

In 1981, the U.S. Air Force chose the UH-60A Black Hawk to replace its HH-3E Jolly Green Giant helicopters. After acquiring some UH-60s, the Air Force began upgrading each with an air refueling probe and additional fuel tanks in the cabin. The machine guns were changed from 0.308 in (7.62 mm) M60s to 0.50 in (12.7 mm) XM218s. These helicopters were referred to as "Credible Hawks" and entered service in 1987.[1]

Afterward, the Credible Hawks and new UH-60As were upgraded and designated MH-60G Pave Hawk. These upgrades were to be done in a two step process. But funding only allowed 16 Credible Hawks to receive the second step equipment. These helicopters were allocated to special operations use. The remaining 82 Credible Hawks received the first step upgrade equipment and were used for combat search and rescue. In 1991, these search and rescue Pave Hawks were redesignated HH-60G.[1][2]

The Pave Hawk is a highly modified version of the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk.[3] It features an upgraded communications and navigation suite that includes an integrated inertial navigation/global positioning/Doppler navigation systems, satellite communications, secure voice, and Have Quick communications. The term PAVE stands for Precision Avionics Vectoring Equipment.

An HH-60 at the 2007 Paris Air Show

All HH-60Gs have an automatic flight control system, night vision goggles lighting and forward looking infrared system that greatly enhances night low-level operations. Additionally, some Pave Hawks have color weather radar and an engine/rotor blade anti-ice system that gives the HH-60G an all-weather capability. Pave Hawk mission equipment includes a retractable in-flight refueling probe, internal auxiliary fuel tanks, two crew-served (or pilot-controlled) 7.62 mm miniguns or .50-caliber machine guns and an 8,000 pound (3,600 kg) capacity cargo hook. To improve air transportability and shipboard operations, all HH-60Gs have folding rotor blades.

Pave Hawk combat enhancements include a radar warning receiver, infrared jammer and a flare/chaff countermeasure dispensing system. HH-60G rescue equipment includes a hoist capable of lifting a 600 pound (270 kg) load from a hover height of 200 feet (60 m), and a personnel locating system. A number of Pave Hawks are equipped with an over-the-horizon tactical data receiver that is capable of receiving near real-time mission update information.[4]

Operational history

USAF HC-130P of the 920th Rescue Wing refuels an HH-60 Pave Hawk.
Sri Lankan relief workers unload vegetables from a USAF HH-60G during an Operation Unified Assistance mission.

The U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk is operated by the Air Combat Command (ACC), U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), Air Education and Training Command (AETC), the Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) and the Air National Guard (ANG) as of 2012. A number of HH-60Gs are also operated by the Air Force Material Command (AFMC) for flight test purposes.[4]

During Operation Desert Storm, Pave Hawks provided combat search and rescue coverage for coalition Air Forces in western Iraq, Saudi Arabia, coastal Kuwait and the Persian Gulf. They also provided emergency evacuation coverage for U.S. Navy sea, air and land (SEAL) teams penetrating the Kuwaiti coast before the invasion.[4]

All MH-60Gs were subsequently divested by Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) in 1991. At that time, most MH-60Gs were redesignated as HH-60Gs and transferred to Air Combat Command (ACC) and ACC-gained Air Force Reserve Command and Air National Guard units.[1][2]

During Operation Allied Force, the Pave Hawk provided continuous combat search and rescue coverage for NATO air forces, and successfully recovered two U.S. Air Force pilots who were isolated behind enemy lines.[4]

In March 2000, three Pave Hawks deployed to Hoedspruit Air Force Base in South Africa, to support international flood relief operations in Mozambique. The HH-60Gs flew 240 missions in 17 days and delivered more than 160 tons of humanitarian relief supplies.[4]

Air Force Pave Hawks from the Pacific theater also took part in a massive humanitarian relief effort in early 2005 in Sri Lanka to help victims of the tsunami.[5] In the fall of 2005, Pave Hawks from various Air Force commands participated in rescue operations of Hurricane Katrina survivors, rescuing thousands of stranded people.[4]

Pave Hawks have regularly operated during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, and continue to be operated in Operation Enduring Freedom, supporting Army and Marine Corps ground combat operations and standby search and rescue support for U.S. and Coalition fixed-wing combat aircraft supporting those ground operations.[4]


The first attempt to replace the HH-60G Pave Hawk was in 1999 when the Air Force identified a need for a helicopter with improved range, speed, and cabin space. An options analysis was completed in 2002 and funding for 141 aircraft under the "personnel recovery vehicle" program began in 2004. In 2005, it was renamed CSAR-X, meaning combat search and rescue. Sikorsky entered the HH-92 Superhawk, Lockheed Martin entered the VH-71 Kestrel, and Boeing entered the HH-47 Chinook. The HH-47 won the competition in November 2006, but the award was cancelled after successful protests from both other competitors. A Request for Proposals (RFP) was reissued in 2007, but protested again before proposals were received, leading to the second cancellation of the CSAR-X program.[6]

In March 2010, the U.S. Air Force announced a recapitalization plan to return its 99-aircraft inventory to 112 airframes by incremental replacement of aging HH-60Gs. A secondary plan to replace of 13 attrition HH-60s, seven of which have been lost in combat since 2001, has also begun implementation. The Air Force deferred secondary combat search and rescue requirements that called for a larger helicopter. A UH-60M-based version was being offered as a replacement.[7][8][9]

On 22 October 2012, the Air Force issued an RFP for a Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH), seeking up to 112 aircraft to replace the HH-60G. The primary mission will be personnel recovery from hostile territory, and also execute humanitarian missions, civil search and rescue, disaster relief, casualty and medical evacuation.[10] The helicopter must have a combat radius of 225 nmi (416 km), a payload of 1,500 lb (680 kg), and space for up to four stretchers. It is planned for four development aircraft to be delivered in 2016, with five more in an operational configuration in 2018. Low-rate initial production will add a further 18 helicopters, with the remaining 85 units to be procured during full-rate production. The AgustaWestland AW101 was one competition entrant.[11] By December 2012, competitors AgustaWestland, EADS, Boeing, and Bell Helicopter had dropped out, claiming that the RFP favored the Black Hawk and did not reward their aircraft's capabilities.[12][13] The Air Force argued that the competition was not written to favor Sikorsky, and that the terms were clear as to the capabilities they wanted and could afford. The $6.8 billion contract was delayed to the first quarter of FY 2014 to complete an independent cost estimate and the impact of government furloughs. Sikorsky was the only bidder remaining, with Lockheed Martin as a subcontractor. Sikorsky and the Air Force conducted an extensive evaluation of their submission, the CRH-60, a variant of the MH-60 Black Hawk special operations helicopter.[14]

The initial Air Force FY 2015 budget proposal unveiled in September 2013 cancelled the CRH program due to sequestration budget cuts, instead retaining the HH-60 fleet.[15] In a 12 December 2013 letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, 74 congressmen expressed their support for the recapitalization of the combat rescue helicopter fleet and not allow budget pressures to impact its lifesaving mission.[16] The proposed CRH-60 differs from the MH-60 Black Hawk by having a greater payload capacity, wider rotor blades, better hovering ability, and 20 percent more cabin space. Lockheed will supply mission equipment and the electronic survivability suite.[6] A spending bill unveiled in January 2014 allocated $333,558,000 to the CRH as a “congressional special interest item.” The bill read that there must be a replacement program, but it has to be affordable to avoid being cancelled.[17] Both Sikorsky and the Air Force said they need funding projections for FY 2015 and onwards.[18] Congress stated it would attempt to add CRH funding if the Air Force could not.[19] Over $300 million was allocated to the program in FY 2014, with $430 million to be moved from other areas through FY 2019 to finance it. Competitive pricing and congressional support will provide early funding, but the program may have to be reevaluated if additional defense cuts take effect in FY 2016.[20] On 26 June 2014, the Air Force awarded Sikorsky and Lockheed a $1.3 billion contract for the first four aircraft, with 112 total to be procured for up to $7.9 billion.[21] Five more are to be delivered by 2020, with the entire order to be completed by 2029.[22]


  • HH-60A: Prototype for the HH-60D rescue helicopter. A modified UH-60A primarily designed for combat search and rescue. It is equipped with a rescue hoist with a 200 ft (60.96 m) cable that has a 600 lb (270 kg) lift capability, and a retractable in-flight refueling probe.[23]
  • HH-60D Night Hawk: Prototype of combat rescue variant for the US Air Force.
  • HH-60E: Proposed search and rescue variant for the US Air Force.
  • HH-60G Pave Hawk: Search and rescue helicopter for the US Air Force. UH-60A Credible Hawk were updated to the HH-60G configuration as part of the first phase in a two-phase program.
  • MH-60G Pave Hawk: Special Operations, search and rescue model for the US Air Force. Equipped with long-range fuel tanks, air-to-air refueling capability, FLIR, improved radar. Powered by T-700-GE-700/701 engines.[23]
  • HH-60H Rescue Hawk: Special Operations, search and rescue model for the US Navy. Equipped with long-range fuel tanks, FLIR, and 2 BRU auxiliary fuel/armament racks allowing the addition of external fuel tanks and the Hellfire guided weapons system.[24]
  • Maplehawk: Proposed search and rescue version for the Canadian Forces to replace aging CH-113 Labradors.[25] The CF opted for the CH-149 Cormorant instead.
  • HH-60M : a search and rescue version of UH-60M with a glass cockpit and more powerful engines.
  • HH-60P Pave Hawk : Combat Search and Rescue variant of UH-60P, in service with Republic of Korea Air Force. Confirmed equipment of External Tank System and FLIR for night operations.[26]
  • HH-60W; combat rescue helicopter variant of the UH-60M for the United States Air Force, requirement for a total of 112 helicopters.[27]


56th Rescue Squadron landing at the US Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon in 2008.

 United States

Specifications (HH-60G)

A New York Air National Guard HH-60G during a visit to South Africa in September 2004

Data from USAF 2008 Almanac[3] USAF fact sheet,[4]

General characteristics
  • Crew: 4 (2 pilots, 2 special mission aviators/aerial gunners)
  • Capacity: max. crew 6, 8–12 troops, plus litters and/or other cargo
  • Length: 64 ft 10 in (17.1 m)
  • Rotor diameter: 53 ft 8 in (14.1 m)
  • Height: 16 ft 8 in (5.1 m)
  • Empty weight: 16,000 lb (7,260 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 22,000 lb (9,900 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × two General Electric T700-GE-700/701C free-turbine turboshafts, 1,630 shp (1,220 kW) each



Onboard systems

See also

USAF HH-60G at Fox Field, Lancaster, California
Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists


  1. ^ a b c Eden, Paul. "Sikorsky H-60 Black Hawk/Seahawk", Encyclopedia of Modern Military Aircraft. Amber Books, 2004. ISBN 1-904687-84-9.
  2. ^ a b Bishop, Chris. Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk. Osprey, 2008. ISBN 978-1-84176-852-6.
  3. ^ a b Young, Susan H.H., Staff Editor (May 2008). – Gallery of USAF Weapons"2008 USAF AlmanacHH-60G Pave Hawk", "" (PDF).  
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "HH-60G Pave Hawk".  
  5. ^ Gempis, Master Sgt. Val. "Kadena Airmen help Sri Lanka tsunami victims". Air Force Print News, 18 January 2005.
  6. ^ a b Sikorsky eyes federal budget amid uncertainty over combat rescue helicopter -, 19 December 2013
  7. ^ Trimble, Stephen. "USAF abandons large helicopter for rescue mission, proposes buying 112 UH-60Ms". Flight International. 24 February 2010.
  8. ^ USAF HH-60 Personnel Recovery Recapitalization Program (HH-60 Recap) sources sought notice., Released" 23 March, Revised: 8 April 2010.
  9. ^ Reed, John. "UH-60M Offered For USAF's New CSAR Program". Defense News, 15 July 2010.
  10. ^ Air Force Releases RFP for Next Search And Rescue Helicopter, 22 October 2012.
  11. ^ US Air Force moves forward with CSAR procurement, 31 October 2012
  12. ^ Most contractors opt out of Air Force chopper bids Reuters, 11 December 2012.
  13. ^ Sikorsky last bidder standing in USAF's combat rescue helicopter battle, 12 December 2012.
  14. ^ U.S. Air Force delays rescue helicopter contract award -, 2 August 2013
  15. ^ USAF Weighs Scrapping KC-10, A-10 Fleets, 15 September 2013.
  16. ^ Congress to Hagel: Keep Funding Search-and-Rescue Helos, 13 December 2013.
  17. ^ Spending bill funds Air Force combat rescue helicopter, 15 January 2014.
  18. ^ Despite reports, Sikorsky CRH contract is not done deal, 17 January 2014.
  19. ^ Aide: Congress Will Fight To Fund Combat Rescue Helo -, 18 February 2014
  20. ^ USAF to issue contract to Sikorsky for rescue helicopter -, 4 March 2014
  21. ^ Sikorsky, Lockheed awarded Combat Rescue Helo contract -, 26 June 2014
  22. ^ Sikorsky awarded up to $7.9 billion rescue helicopter deal -, 27 June 2014
  23. ^ a b Model Designation of Military Aerospace VehiclesDoD 4120-15L, . US DoD, 12 May 2004.
  24. ^ HH-60H Seahawk –
  25. ^ Warwick, Graham (27 September 2008). "Level Playing Field?". Flight International (Reed Business Information). Retrieved 8 October 2008. 
  26. ^
  27. ^ USAF toasts Whiskey designation for CRH fleet
  28. ^ "World Air Forces 2014". Flightglobal Insight. 2014. Retrieved 10 September 2014. 
  29. ^ "33d Rescue Squadron". Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  30. ^ "41st Rescue Squadron". Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  31. ^ "55th Rescue Squadron". Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  32. ^ "56th Rescue Squadron". Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  33. ^ "66th Rescue Squadron". Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  34. ^ "101st Rescue Squadron". Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  35. ^ "129th Rescue Squadron". Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  36. ^ "210th Rescue Squadron". Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  37. ^ "301st Rescue Squadron". Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  38. ^ "305th Rescue Squadron". Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  39. ^ "413th Flight Test Squadron". Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  40. ^ "512th Rescue Squadron". Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  • Leoni, Ray D. Black Hawk, The Story of a World Class Helicopter, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, 2007. ISBN 978-1-56347-918-2.
  • Tomajczyk, Stephen F. Black Hawk, MBI, 2003. ISBN 0-7603-1591-4.

External links

  • USAF HH-60G Pave Hawk fact sheet
  • HH-60 page and MH-60 page on
  • Sikorsky S-70 page on
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