BAE Systems has been selected to provide critical survivability and situational awareness technology for the US Air Force’s HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH). The company announced on March 9 that it will supply its Identification Friend or Foe technology known as the AN/DPX-7 Reduced Size Transponder (RST) and its Common Missile Warning System (CMWS). These contracts mark the first time that a US Air Force platform will benefit from the RST system and from CMWS, a highly automated and tightly integrated infrared countermeasures suite.
“When airmen enter into dangerous situations to rescue wounded soldiers, they require the best technology available to safeguard them during these vital missions and provide them with situational awareness,” said John Watkins, vice president of Business Development at BAE Systems. “By equipping the Combat Rescue Helicopter with RST and CMWS, the Air Force can be confident that its airmen will be using technology that has been proven in theatre on multiple US Army and Navy platforms.”
At half the size and weight of others that are fielded, BAE Systems believes its transponder is ideal for aircraft such as the CRH, where space must be maximized and weight limited to increase the aircraft’s performance. The transponder is currently on several manned and unmanned aircraft, including the US Navy’s unmanned MQ-4C Triton. It also supports combat identification and sense-and-avoid applications with its Mode 5 and ADS-B In/Out capabilities.
The US Air Force will deploy the CMWS Gen3 system that includes both hostile fire indication and data recording capabilities to detect and evade small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. The system also performs detailed post-mission analysis. CMWS missile warning technology has served more than 24 US Army platform types and has amassed more than two million in-theatre hours.
These awards to BAE Systems follow the US Air Force’s 2014 decision to select the team of Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin to replace the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters with a derivative of the Sikorsky Black Hawk. As part of the Air Force’s Combat Search and Rescue Mission, which includes Personnel Recovery Operations, the helicopters are used to extricate troops from dangerous situations in uncertain or hostile environments. Preliminary design review of this new aircraft is expected to take place this year. Sikorsky was awarded a $1.28 billion contract on June 26, 2014, for eventual production and fielding of up to 112 of these helicopters under the CRH programme, with a potential total value of approximately $7.9 billion. This contract, for the initial engineering, manufacturing and development (EMD) phase of the CRH programme, includes procurement of the first four helicopters. Initial deliveries are expected to begin in Fiscal Year 2019. Alan Warnes