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. 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 five: pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer, and two PJs. The aircraft can also carry eight to 10 troops.
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 three people simultaneously on a forest penetrator.
The helicopter has limited self-protection provided by side window mounted M-60, M-240, or GAU-2B machine guns. Pave Hawk is equipped with two crew-served 7.62mm miniguns mounted in the cabin windows. Also, two .50 caliber machine guns can be mounted in the cabin doors. An APR-39A(V)1 radar warning receiver, ALQ-144A infrared jammer, Hover Infrared Suppression System (HIRSS), M-130 chaff dispenser, and precision navigation equipment (GPS, Inertial Navigation System (INS), Doppler) afford additional threat avoidance and protection.
Mission systems on the HH-60H make it ideally suited for operations with special warfare units. Combat-equipped personnel can be covertly inserted and/or extracted in any terrain with precise GPS navigation accuracy. A variety of insertion and extraction techniques are available, including landing, hoisting, fastrope, rappel, paradrop, McGuire or SPIE Rig, and CRRC. Additionally, Helicopter Visit Board Search and Seizure (HVBSS) operations may be conducted using one or more of these insertion/extraction techniques. HVBSS missions are designed to take control of a ship considered to be a Contact of Interest (COI). The ability to interdict or 'take down' shipping during enforcement of a naval blockade requires precise planning and execution. Tethered Duck (T-Duck) was implemented to rapidly insert troops and a Combat Rubber Raiding Craft (CRRC) to water areas. The troops fastrope down to the CRRC after it is lowered into the water, and the motor is then hoisted down to the troops to complete the procedure. Parachute operations are used for inserting troops when the helicopters are unable to land with a minumum free-fall drop altitude of 2500 feet AGL (above ground level).
The maximum speed is 193 knots with a cruise speed of 120 to 140 knots. Unrefueled range is 480 nautical miles (NM), with a combat load and aircraft at maximum gross weight of 22,000 lbs; the combat radius is approximately 200NM. Inflight refueling greatly extends this range. 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 two 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 be equipped with the external stores support system.
The HH-60 is stationed throughout the world. MAJCOMS include AFRC, ANG, AFSOC, PACAF, AFMC, AETC, and ACC. ACC is the lead command. Besides a full complement of flightline support, home stations provide two and three level maintenance support functions. HH-60 helicopter is a worldwide deployable aircraft. Two 365 day a year contingencies are currently being conducted. In deployment scenarios some locations have full flightline support capabilities with limited backshop support, while other deployed sites have less support, down to a bare base scenario. A flightline support contingent is deployed with the aircraft. Depending on the deployment location and duration, varying levels of backshop maintenance support might also be deployed.
HH-60G is rapidly approaching its flying hour service life limit. Consequently, CAF will soon require either a service life extension program (SLEP) for HH-60G or procurement of a replacement aircraft for conducting CSAR operations. The HH-60G System Program Office is assessing whether HH-60G’s service life limit is 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 AF configuration and operating gross weights of the HH-60G. Depending on the assessment results, HH-60G aircraft (1981 models) will begin reaching their service life limit as early as FY00, if service life limit is determined to be 7,000 flight hours. Otherwise, if the limit is determined to be 8,000 flight hours, 1981 model HH-60G aircraft will begin reaching their service life limit in FY03.
Air Combat Command (ACC) is analyzing concepts/alternatives to assess their relative cost effectiveness and affordability for sustaining the U.S. Air Force's Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) capability. After complete concepts/alternatives (aircraft platform- level,including subsystems, and support/training systems) are received, the Air Force intends to analyze those that provide the most opportunity to satisfy currently deficient mission capabilities while maintaining, as a minimum, existent Combat Rescue capability. A detailed Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) will follow to ascertain whether or not the concepts/alternatives exceed/meet/do not meet the specific measures of effectiveness. The AoA will include modeling, simulation, and CSAR scenarios projected for 2010. If this analysis results 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.
The Block 152 upgrade, formally known as Upgraded Communication, Navigation/Integrated Electronic Warfare (UCN/IEW), is the most significant upgrade ever for the HH-60G Pave Hawk. The upgrades are designed to greatly enhance the aircraft's performance in locating and retrieving downed pilots from hostile territory. The program is managed by Aeronautical Systems Center (ASC) here. The combined government team includes ASC, Warner Robins Air Logistics Center and Air Combat Command. New features include an enhanced communication and navigation system, and an electronic warfare suite that dispenses countermeasures to thwart missile and radar threats. These systems are integrated into a 1553 computer data bus designed to greatly reduce aircrew workload. (The 1553 data bus concept was developed here in the late 1970s by Air Force personnel in the Avionics Laboratory, now Sensors Directorate of Air Force Research Laboratory.) The aircraft also features a new, external, gun-mount system that supports a .50 caliber machine gun in addition to the current, 7.62-mm minigun and M240 gun. After certification of the upgrade on a prototype aircraft, a contract will be issued to retrofit 48 more aircraft, scheduled to be completed by 2007.
The Block 152 acquisition program started out as a minor mod, fitting the new items in available space, but ended up as a major mod with the relocation of almost every avionics unit. All of the communications and navigation information on the new aircraft is available on a single, control display unit. Another modification to the helicopter is the relocation of the forward-looking, infrared radar (FLIR) turret from an area that was below the nose and slightly to the left of the centerline, to an area on the nose that is higher off the ground along the centerline of the aircraft. This was primarily a maintenance-driven requirement. These aircraft have to land in unimproved areas, and there was a problem with these costly turrets being crushed, so the idea was to move it up and forward.
Guns on the modified Pave Hawk are mounted externally, instead of being hinged to swing inside the cabin to lock in place. This provides flight engineers, who operate the aircraft's weapons, with the advantage of closing the gunner's windows when flying in subzero temperatures, and frees up cabin space. The guns lock in a fixed, forward-firing position. In this configuration, the capability exists for pilots to operate the weapons. The new mounts provide a weapon system that is completely external, to include the ammunition cans. The new system supports operation of a .50 caliber machine gun. Previously, the big gun only could be operated from the open door of the aircraft.
As another defensive measure, the new Pave Hawks will come equipped with electronic countermeasures that detect enemy radar and missile threats. The aircraft is designed to dispense flare and chaff automatically when these threats are detected. These flare-and-chaff buckets, never operationally certified before on any combat search-and-rescue helicopter, can operate in an automatic, semi-automatic or manual mode.
The communications, navigation and electronic warfare systems are integrated into an additional 1553 data bus. All of the aircraft's avionics, communications, navigation and electronic warfare systems fit into two, floor-to-ceiling racks immediately behind the cockpit, next to the flight engineer and gunners' stations. The placement of these racks came as the result of a solution to a problem the team encountered when designing the new features. Originally the equipment was to be placed in the aft section of the aircraft. However, the weight of racks created a 400-pound, center-of-gravity problem. Placing two racks forward was the solution; moving the FLIR turret forward, also helped solve, unintentionally, the center-of-gravity problem. The placement of the equipment racks increases the overall cabin space. The racks are "line-replaceable units." Equipment can be removed from the racks for repair and replaced within an hour. The racks provide room for future growth should additional equipment be added at a later date. The system also is designed to take advantage of the heat generated by the avionics systems in the racks. Warm air can be vented outside in hot weather, and inside in cool weather.
Other important additions to the helicopter include a voice warning system; a multi-mission, adaptive tactical terminal, which provides crewmembers with real-time, off-board intelligence; system data loading with either 3.5 inch diskettes or flash memory "cards," and improved Night Vision Goggles and NVG compatible displays.