USAF Receives First Refurbished Army Helicopter

Alaska Air National Guardsmen of 210th Rescue Squadron and 176th Maintenance Group recover the first 210th RQS Operational Loss Replacement HH-60G Pave Hawk after its Aug. 5, 2019, delivery to JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. Air National Guard photo by David Bedard.

The Air Force’s first operational loss replacement HH-60G Pave Hawk touched down at JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, this week.

The helicopter, assigned to the 210th Rescue Squadron, arrived Aug. 5 after a four-day trip from Nellis AFB, Nev.

OLR helicopters are refurbished Army UH-60L Black Hawks, which are newer than the Air Force’s Pave Hawk fleet and are supplementing USAF helos as HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopters are delivered.

“It’s a nice aircraft,” said Maj. Paul Rauenhorst, an instructor pilot with the squadron, in a release. “It flies very smooth. You can definitely tell it’s a lot newer just by the way it flies and handles.”

The Air Force is reconfiguring 19 UH-60Ls to reach a total fleet of 112 HH-60Gs, replacing helicopters that were lost during 18 years of continuous combat operations.

The service originally expected deliveries of OLR aircraft in fiscal 2018, but delayed that schedule because of testing deficiencies.

In a draft 2020 defense policy bill, the Senate Armed Services Committee called on the Air National Guard to keep its older G models until the Ws are delivered.