This may be one of the best helicopter footage you’ve ever seen!
Shot at 5.7K/30FPS with an Insta360 ONE X camera by Air Force Rescue Pilot @jolly_pilot the video below will literally bring you inside the cockpit of a U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter flying at low level over New England. Based on the patch worn by one of the pilots, the aircrew (and most probably the chopper) belong to the 101st Rescue Squadron, a unit of the New York Air National Guard 106th Rescue Wing stationed at Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base, Westhampton Beach, New York.
The stabilized 360 video is just stunning as it provides an interesting, always changing POV: it looks like you are in the cockpit, rolling the helicopter and pulling Gs to follow the river bed. This kind of flying is required to train pilots flying the Combat SAR mission: the HH-60 is the dedicated USAF CSAR platform since Operation Desert Storm. To perform its mission, the HH-60G is fitted with an automatic flight control system, forward-looking infrared system and color weather radar that assists with finding and rescuing personnel anytime during the day or night. It is also equipped with a retractable, in-flight refueling probe and with internal auxiliary fuel tanks and it can be provided by two crew-served 7.62mm or .50-caliber machine guns.
However, as explained in a previous article published last year:
“The availability rate of the Pave Hawk fleet declined in the last years due to age of the airframes and the high operations tempo of the fleet because of the continuous deployments for combat operations in Africa and the Middle East. According to a report from the Government Accountability Office “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 same report noted that the average flight hours of the available helicopters is 7100 hours, while the expected flying life was 6000 hours, and the average depot-level maintenance increased from 233 days in fiscal year 2007 to 322 days in fiscal year 2017.”
For this reason, the Air Force has launched an OLR (Operational Loss Replacement) program, “meant to replace the aircraft lost during combat operations since 9/11 (including one of the 210th RQS lost in Iraq in 2018), restoring the HH-60G fleet to its authorized size while also addressing issues with maintenance and availability of mission-capable aircraft. […] Units scheduled to receive the re-missionized helicopters will see a marked improvement in sustainability from the aircraft they’re currently flying, as numerous aging and obsolescent systems were modernized to match today’s state-of-the-art capabilities. These include color weather radar, a digital symbol generator, improved tactical air navigation, new radar warning receivers, an automatic direction finder, and a digital intercommunication system.”
The OLR HH-60Gs will act as a stopgap measure until the Air Force starts fielding the new HH-60W. Among the Air National Guard units receiving the OLR aircraft is also the 101st RQS at Gabreski Field, New York.