The Air Force’s new combat rescue helicopter is officially here to save the day

Have no fear: the Jolly Green II is finally here

Have no fear: the Jolly Green II is finally here.

The Air Force officially took possession of its first two HH-60W Jolly Green II combat rescue helicopters at Moody Air Force Base last week, the service announced.

23rd Wing and 347th Rescue Group leadership took receipt of the new helos after they were flown from Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky Training Academy in Connecticut to Moody AFB in Georgia by Air Force personnel.

The Air Force’s program of record calls for the purchase of 113 of the new combat rescue helicopters to replace its predecessor, the Sikorsky-made HH-60G Pave Hawk, which has been in service for nearly three decades.

Named for the famous “green feet” impressions that the original Sikorsky HH-3E “Jolly Green Giant” would leave behind while rescuing downed aviators during the Vietnam War, the Jolly Green II represents a major leap forward Air Force personnel recovery missions.

The Jolly Green II “comes equipped with a wide range of capabilities that will ensure its crews continue carrying out their critical combat search and rescue and personnel recovery operations for all U.S. military services and allies in contested and diverse environments,” according to the Air Force release. 

Key features of the Jolly Green II include “advanced and improved” defensive systems, vulnerability reduction, hover performance, electrical capacity, avionics, cooling, weapons, and cyber-security capabilities, according to the service.

The Air Force had previously procured 22 HH-60Ws in fiscal years 2019 and 2020, according to Defense News, and the service requested $1.1 billion as part of its fiscal year 2021 budget for an additional 19 airframes.

“Americans owe these courageous airmen the very best equipment,” Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett said of the new airframe back in February. “The new combat rescue helicopter, the HH-60W improves range and survivability for safer search and rescue operations everywhere, every time.”

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