The Air Force’s next combat rescue helicopter is continuing its development as it undergoes testing of its weapons and electronics systems while hanging in a soundproof chamber.
The HH-60W entered the Joint Preflight Integration of Munitions and Electronic Systems facility at Eglin AFB, Fla., in November for about seven weeks of tests on its defensive systems, according to an Air Force Materiel Command release. The facility can gather data by “isolating the electromagnetic radiation inside the facility’s anechoic chamber” — the room’s unique design prevents echoes of both sound and electromagnetic waves, according to ACC. This helps testers find specific discrepancies or concerns with the system.
Next up, flight testing for the helicopter’s defensive systems.
“Developmental test has begun in earnest,” Joe Whiteaker, the combat rescue helicopter flight commander with the 413th Flight Test Squadron at Eglin, in the release. “Every new event brings us closer to getting this aircraft to the warfighter, which is what we are really focused on.”
The Air Force plans to buy 113 of the Sikorksy-produced helicopters to replace its aging HH-60G Pave Hawk fleet. The service received the first test aircraft in November, which was sent to the 96th Test Wing at Eglin. Full-rate production is expected on the aircraft in 2021.