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The U.S. Air Force’s newest combat rescue helicopter hung suspended in a soundproof chamber for defense system testing at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, last month.
The 413th Flight Test Squadron’s HH-60W went into the Joint Preflight Integration of Munitions and Electronic Systems (JPRIMES) facility in mid-November for approximately seven weeks of defensive systems testing.
Those systems are a significant upgrade from the legacy HH-60G currently flown by Air Combat Command.
The JPRIMES facility has the unique capability to capture high-quality data on those defensive systems by isolating the electromagnetic radiation inside the facility’s anechoic chamber. The chamber is a room designed to stop reflections of either sound or electromagnetic waves and insulated from exterior sources of noise.
Testing the HH-60W in JPRIMES will characterize the performance of the helicopter’s systems prior to electronic warfare flight-testing. The tests ensure it is capable of defeating hostile threats while performing its designated combat search-and-rescue mission.
The new aircraft arrived to the 96th Test Wing in early November. The Air Force is contracted to purchase 113 HH-60W aircraft to replace its aging fleet of HH-60G helicopters.
The JPRIMES facility hosts similar test missions like this throughout the year. The facility provides an environment to facilitate testing air-to-air and air-to-surface munitions and electronics systems on full-scale aircraft and land vehicles prior to open air testing.
The JPRIMES test data will be used to support specification compliance and check for defensive system discrepancies or concerns.
This is an early, but critical step in the developmental process of the new HH-60. After JPRIMES testing, this particular aircraft will begin flight test for its defensive systems.
“Developmental test has begun in earnest,” said Joe Whiteaker, the squadron’s combat rescue helicopter flight commander. “Every new event brings us closer to getting this aircraft to the warfighter, which is what we are really focused on.”