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GAO Report for HH-60G Helicopter Replacement
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report about the replacement of the U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk aging personnel recovery helicopter fleet
GAO, August 18, 2018 - The following is a summary of a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) 24 page long report released about the replacement of USAF Sikorsky HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters.
Since the 1980s, the Air Force has used its HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters to conduct life-saving missions, including for personnel recovery and medical evacuations.
The aging HH-60G inventory has shrunk over the years as a result of mishaps. As the inventory was declining, the Air Force began efforts to replace its fleet with the new Combat Rescue Helicopter, the Sikorsky HH-60W.
The material condition of the Air Forces' aging HH-60G fleet has declined and maintenance challenges have increased, in part due to extensions beyond the designed service life of the helicopters.
About 68 percent of the 96-helicopter fleet were mission-capable as of fiscal year 2017, below the Air Force desired mission-capable rate of 75 percent.
The fleet is experiencing maintenance challenges. For example, the helicopters undergoing depot-level maintenance spent an average of 332 days undergoing such maintenance in fiscal year 2017 compared with 233 days in fiscal year 2007, more than a 40-percent increase.
Air Force officials attribute these challenges to the helicopters exceeding their initially planned service life. Currently, available helicopters across the fleet average about 7,100 flight hours about 18 percent more than their initial expected service life of 6,000 hours.
According to Air Force officials, the schedule for fielding the new Combat Rescue Helicopters generally prioritizes the replacement of helicopters with the highest number of flight hours; as a result, the active component is scheduled to begin receiving its new helicopters in fiscal year 2020, 6 years before the reserve component.
To address aging helicopters in the Air National Guard, the Guard is scheduled to receive refurbished Army helicopters beginning in 2019. According to Air Force officials, these helicopters will have 3,000 or fewer flight hours and will be upgraded to the Air Force's HH-60G configuration. Some squadrons in the reserve component are scheduled to continue flying HH-60Gs until 2028.
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Sikorsky HH-60W CRH-60
Sikorsky HH-60G Pave Hawk