While based on the US Army Black Hawk helicopter, the HH-60 Pave Hawk features a slew of upgraded systems that make it distinct to Air Force usage. In particular, the Pave Hawk maintains several systems designed with night operations in mind that include night vision, forward-looking infra-red and an automatic flight control system. An in-flight retractable probe is also provided for extended operations time. For aircrew rescue, the Pave Hawk fields a retractable hoist system and specialized communications and location equipment.
Power for the Pave Hawk is derived from two General Electric brand T700-GE-700 or T700-GE-701C model engines generating some 1,560 to 1,940 shaft horsepower each. The engines rotate a four-blade main rotor and a four-blade tail rotor while offering speeds of up to 184 miles per hour with a ceiling of 14,000 feet. Standard crew accommodations amount to four personnel that includes two pilots, a flight engineer and a gunner. Additional seating or room for medical litters is provided in the cabin. Armament for the Pave Hawk is made mission specific and can include two machine guns in either the 7.62mm form or the heavy caliber 12.7mm.
Classified as a medium-lift helicopter, the system has already seen service through Panama, Desert Storm and beyond, covering recovery efforts in Africa, the Middle East and the US Gulf region after the hurricanes of 2005. As of this writing, the United States Air Force maintains 64 active Pave Hawks in inventory along with 23 held in reserve whilst the Air National Guard carries an additional 18. The HH-60 Pave Hawk currently serves in both Afghanistan and Iraq theaters of war.
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