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Oct 9, 2019 10:50 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

The 106th Rescue Wing To Replace Helicopter Fleet

The new Combat Rescue Helicopters. Sikorsky, A Lockheed Martin Company
Oct 11, 2019 3:29 PM


The 106th Rescue Wing, stationed at the Francis Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach, will replace all six of its HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters with the all-new HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopters, which are now in testing. Until then, the base has received refurbished HH-60G’s, a temporary fix while the base works on securing brand new aircraft in its place.

So far, the 106th received two refurbished HH-60G Pave Hawks and the base expects to replace the remaining four Pave Hawks soon.

“It’s a stop gap until there’s a solution and a new way forward with a new helicopter,” said Captain Michael O’Hagan, the rescue wing’s public affairs officer. “Most of the current helicopters we have are from around 1988 or so, compared to the ‘130s’ [planes] that some of them were from the Vietnam era.”

Typically, helicopters have a shorter lifespan than most planes; they take on a different mission, and ultimately experience a lot more wear and tear to the structure. The goal is to provide the 106th with newer helicopters than what they have now. According to Sikorsky, the company representing the helicopter manufacturer, the newer helicopters have a 195 nautical mile combat radius and improved survivability and lethality.

Earlier this year the 106th unveiled its newest aircraft to the public which resulted in a major upgrade to the unit’s fleet. In May they received the first of four brand-new, $66 million HC-130J Combat King II planes to replace the HC-130 P/Ns, an older version of the aircraft that the unit has used for recovery operations like long-range search-and-rescue and combat search-and-rescue missions.

“I hope, and I stress hope, that we will get more operational use out of this. It’ll help execute the mission until whatever the next replacement comes along,” the captain continued. “It’s ultimately a used air frame that has less wear and tear on it than our current air frame. It’s been refurbished to work for air force needs and air force rescue missions. 
This helicopter is sort of certified used, as Colonel [Michael] Blank put it — it’s like getting a [certified, pre-owned] to replace a heavily stressed car.”

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