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106th Rescue Wing receives first HH-60W Jolly Green II rescue helicopter

Air National Guard 106th Rescue Wing receives the first HH-60W Jolly Green II combat rescue helicopter
An HH-60W Jolly Green II combat search and rescue helicopter assigned to the 106th Rescue Wing, lands on the flight line at Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base, Westhampton Beach, N.Y., June 13, 2024. The HH-60W is the first of six of the new models to arrive at the 106th as the unit transitions from the HH-60G Pave Hawk models. U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Sarah McKernan.
Story by Senior Airman Sarah McKernan, 106th Rescue Wing

Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base, Westhampton Beach, N.Y. – The 106th Rescue Wing received the first HH-60W Jolly Green II search and rescue helicopter at Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base, on Thursday, June 20, 2024.

The arrival of the new helicopter, marks the beginning of a new era as the 106th begins its transition from the HH-60G Pave Hawk to the latest rescue helicopter, said Colonel Shawn Fitzgerald, the 106th Rescue Wing Commander.

According to Lt. Col. Matthew Forbes, the 101st Rescue Squadron Commander, the current “Golf” models have served the wing since 1990.

“We are very excited all around and I am so happy to be a part of it and see it happen,” Fitzgerald said.

The crew that ferried the aircraft from Moody Air Force Base in Georgia to Gabreski included two HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter instructor pilots, a special missions aviator, and two HH-60 crew chiefs from the 106th Rescue Wing.

The 106th RW crew chiefs met with their maintenance counterparts at Moody to ensure documentation was in order and performed a thorough check of the aircraft before heading to Gabreski, explained Master Sgt. Jordan Butler, an HH-60 crew chief.

“It’s awesome being a part of the team to bring our first ‘Whiskey’ (HH-60W) home, knowing that it’s the first of a new era for the Wing is exciting». “It’s difficult to go from something that you’ve worked on HH-60G for 12 years, but a lot of the aircraft is similar, so learning the subtleties and nuances is going to be challenging but I’m excited to begin the transition,” Butler added.

According to Forbes, maintainers from the 106th have already begun their qualifications training and the first two aircrew members are currently at training receiving their qualifications.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to work on the new airframe,” said Senior Airman Ryan Brandon, an HH-60 crew chief. “I’m looking forward to the upcoming challenges as we learn to work and maintain these aircraft.”

Forbes explained that the HH-60W CRH features improved turn performance, increased hover-at-altitude capabilities, larger cabin space, and an internal fuel system. “From a pilot’s perspective, the biggest difference is the avionics package». “You’re going from a federated cockpit to a fully integrated cockpit. There are a lot of upgrades that make us more survivable in major combat operations,” Forbes added.

HH-60W Jolly Green II

The upgraded avionics suite on the Sikorsky HH-60W Jolly Green II includes an integrated mission system which includes a fully integrated cockpit and cabin displays, which reduces aircrew workload and improves effectiveness during missions. Modifications also include externally mounted weapons for increased cabin space as well as improved cabin and cockpit armor.

The aircraft is also equipped with over-the-horizon tactical data receivers that enable the helicopter to receive near real-time mission and threat update information, enhancing mission effectiveness, Forbes explained.

The 106th Rescue Wing will be fully transitioned to the new model by June 2025, when the base receives its sixth HH-60W Jolly Green II.

106th Rescue Wing

The 106th Rescue Wing, based at Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach, New York, operates and maintains the HC-130J Combat King II search and rescue aircraft, and the HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopter.

The 106th Rescue Wing is home to a special warfare squadron with pararescuemen and combat rescue officers, specializing in rescue and recovery, and deploys for domestic and overseas operations.

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