US Air Force’s new search and rescue helicopter tested in anechoic chamber

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The HH-60W, the US Air Force’s latest combat rescue helicopter, has undergone defensive systems testing in the Joint Preflight Integration of Munitions and Electronic Systems facility at Eglin Air Base in Florida.

The 413th Flight Test Squadron’s HH-60W, a Sikorsky-made helicopter derived from the Black Hawk, arrived at the Joint Preflight Integration of Munitions and Electronic Systems (J-PRIMES)  facility in November 2019 for the seven week test program.

The testing program will characterize the performance of the helicopter’s defensive 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 missions.

The systems are a significant upgrade from the legacy HH-60G currently flown by the US Air Force. 113 HH-60W aircraft are on order to replace the US Air Force’s aging fleet of HH-60G helicopters.

The JPRIMES facility captures high quality data on the defensive systems by isolating the electromagnetic radiation inside the facility’s anechoic chamber. The chamber is designed to stop reflections of either sound or electromagnetic waves and insulated from exterior sources of noise.

The JPRIMES facility provides an environment for testing air-to-air and air-to-surface munitions and electronics systems on full-scale aircraft and land vehicles before open air testing at a range is conducted.

Test data from the anechoic chamber will be used to support specification compliance and check for defensive system discrepancies or concerns.

“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.”

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before eventually becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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