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Sikorsky HH-60 (Pave Hawk) Combat Search and Rescue / Military Operations Helicopter

The HH-60 Pave Hawk is the US Air Force version of the UH-60 Black Hawk of the US Army, modified for aircrew search and rescue in all weather situations.

 Updated: 7/23/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

The HH-60 Pave Hawk series of all-weather day/night transport helicopters is an Air Force version of the successful UH-60 Black Hawk series. The HH-60 in Air Force service is charged - though not limited to - with the rescue of downed airmen or the insertion of special forces units behind enemy lines and has also been called upon to serve in humanitarian situations. The HH-60 is a reliable and adaptable system that has seen service since its induction and will continue to do so for the near future.

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.

June 2017 - The HH-60W is set to replace the aging stock of HH-60G models in service with the USAF. The procurement will cover some 112 aircraft for the Combat Rescue Helicopter program.

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Sikorsky HH-60G (Pave Hawk) Technical Specifications

Service Year: 1991
Type: Combat Search and Rescue / Military Operations Helicopter
National Origin: United States
Manufacturer(s): United Technologies / Sikorsky Aircraft Company - USA
Production Total: 105

Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

Operating Crew (Typical): 4
Overall Length: 56.10 feet (17.1 meters)
Overall Width: 46.26 feet (14.10 meters)
Overall Height: 16.73 feet (5.10 meters)

Weight (Empty): 16,006 lb (7,260 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 21,826 lb (9,900 kg)

Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

Propulsion: 2 x General Electric T700-GE-700 or T700-GE-701C engines developing 1,630 shaft horsepower each driving a four-bladed main rotor and four-bladed tail rotor.

Maximum Speed: 183 mph (294 kph; 159 knots)
Maximum Range: 445 miles (716 km)
Service Ceiling: 13,999 feet (4,267 meters; 2.65 miles)

Armament / Mission Payload

Various. Dependent upon mission requirements. Self-defense armament can include the following:

2 x 7.62mm M134 miniguns OR 2 x 12.7mm GAU-18/A miniguns in side fuselage mounts.

Global Operators / Customers

South Korea; United States

Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

HH-60 - Base Series Designation
HH-60A - Rescue helicopter prototype based on the UH-60A transport.
HH-60D "Night Hawk" - USAF Combat rescue helicopter prototype.
HH-60E - Proposed USAF Search and Rescue (SAR) variant.
HH-60G "Pave Hawk" - USAF SAR variant
MH-60G "Pave Hawk" - SPECOPS SAR variant
HH-60H "Rescue Hawk"
"Maple Hawk" - Proposed SAR variant for Canadian armed forces.
HH-60P "Pave Hawk" - Combat SAR model for South Korea; FLIR capable; increased fuel stores for improved operational ranges.
HH-60W - HH-60G replacement model; combat rescue helicopter.