The Air Force's first 2 operational 'Jolly Green' helicopters just arrived

  • Two HH-60W Jolly Green II helicopters arrived at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia on November 5. 
  • The helicopters are specialized for combat search-and-rescue and personnel-recovery missions, and their arrival starts the service's transition from the HH-60G Pave Hawk.
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The US Air Force received the first two operational HH-60W Jolly Green II helicopters (serials 17-14488 and 17-14489) specialized for Combat Search And Rescue (CSAR) and Personnel Recovery (PR) missions. The 23rd Wing and 347th Rescue Group leadership were present to witness the arrival of the new helicopters at Moody Air Force Base (Georgia).

The helicopters departed from Lockheed Martin's Sikorsky Training Academy for their new home at the commands of aircrews from Moody's 41st Rescue Squadron, the first unit to transition from the HH-60G Pave Hawk to the HH-60W, and from the 413th Flight Test Squadron and 88th Test and Evaluation Squadron based at Duke Field (Florida).

The Jolly Green II underwent extensive testing at Duke Field, including extreme temperatures, radar, defensive systems, live fire and aerial refueling. The Air Force was initially expected to receive 113 helicopters, later reduced to 108, as part of the Combat Rescue Helicopter program.

Based on the UH-60M, the HH-60W includes a number of improvements over the HH-60G, with a focus on range and survivability.

As stated by the Air Force, the primary mission of the new helicopters will be conducting day or night operations into hostile environments to recover isolated personnel during war, while also being available stateside for civil search and rescue, medical evacuation, disaster response, humanitarian assistance, security cooperation/aviation advisory, NASA space-flight support, and rescue command and control.

The name Jolly Green II was chosen as a reference to 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 two helicopters were replaced by the HH-60G Pave Hawk and the CV-22 Osprey, respectively.

While the Pave Hawk has been in service since 1982, the helicopter was assigned to Moody AFB only in 1994. After 26 years, the base is beginning the transition to the new HH-60W, which will continue to fly together with its predecessor until the transition is complete. The next unit scheduled to receive the new helicopter is the 512th Rescue Squadron at Kirtland AFB (New Mexico).

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