Lockheed Martin announced the Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) Program Training Systems Critical Design Review (CDR) was successfully conducted. This allows the CRH program to proceed to assemble, test and evaluate the Sikorsky developed HH-60W helicopter's training systems.

“The CRH team is working hard to provide our warfighters the capability they require to continue to conduct the critical personnel recovery mission far into the future,” said Dave Schairbaum, USAF CRH program manager.

This step in the process is important for developing maintenance and aircrew training devices and courseware products to ensure the HH-60W helicopter has a smooth entry into the USAF fleet. The helicopter will replace the current fleet of HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, which perform critical combat search and rescue operations as well as personnel recovery for all US military services.

"I am really excited about achieving yet another program milestone in support of a six-month accelerated schedule,” said Sikorsky CHR Program Director Tim Healy. “This capability is badly needed by the USAF rescue warriors that have continually engaged in combat operations since 1991.”

This development stems from a $1.28 billion Engineering Manufacturing & Development contract that the USAF awarded Sikorsky in June 2014. It called for the development and integration of the next generation of combat rescue platforms and mission systems, delivering four HH-60W helicopters, associated training systems and support for both. In January 2017, the USAF made use of a $203 million contract option for an additional five aircrafts.

"The aircraft production is well underway, and with our training system design well understood by all parties, we can now begin assembly of the training devices and courseware as well," said Healy.

The flight simulator has several goals to reach before going into operation, chief among them to hit the highest FAA standards, alongside the capability to link with other simulators on the Combat Air Forces Distributed Mission Operations network, full aircrew training so pilots and special mission aviators can train together, to utilize an array of touch screens for a “glass cockpit”, and the ability to learn aircraft systems troubleshooting while in a classroom or squadron environment.

“Having highly capable training devices and courseware that mirror aircraft capability absolutely underpins our ability to perform rescue operations," said Schairbaum.

The instructional courseware will provide interactive instruction and computer-based training for HH-60W maintainers and operators.

The first HH-60W flight is expected by late 2018. The training devices and courseware are expected to be ready for training in early 2020.