The U.S. Air Force is considering replacing the missile warning system for the Lockheed Martin [LMT] HH-60W Jolly Green II combat search and rescue (CSAR) helicopter to counter future threats.

“Legacy ultraviolet (UV) based detection systems and IR [infrared] countermeasures are largely designed to detect and defeat first and second-generation IR missiles, providing only limited effectiveness against modern threat systems that utilize Band IV spectrum and Counter-Countermeasure (CCM) technology,” per an Oct. 15 sources sought notice. “The IR defensive systems being delivered on the HH-60W rely solely on these legacy technologies with finite quantities of expendable countermeasures.  While the proposed Missile Warning System (MWS) slated for the HH-60W does meet HH-60W program requirements, recent classified reports warn of limited effectiveness against fielded and future IR missile capabilities.”

The HH-60W program said that it is exploring a directional infrared countermeasures system (DIRCM) that weighs less than 150 pounds, “preferably replaces MWS entirely, although, solutions that utilize MWS will be considered,” does not require external airframe modifications, has Band IV spectrum IR threat detection, is able to communicate with the ALE-47 to dispense countermeasures, allows future upgrades, and reduces ground clutter and ensures full lower hemisphere coverage.

The HH-60W, which is to assume the CSAR role of the HH-60G Pave Hawk, is to have a variety of defensive measures, including the BAE Systems AN/AAR‑57(V)3 common missile warning system, BAE’s AN/ALE-47 countermeasures dispenser set, the Collins Aerospace [RTX] AN/AVR‑2B(V)1 laser detecting system, the Lockheed Martin AN/APR‑52(V)1 radar warning receiver (RWR), and an upturned exhaust system to reduce the aircraft’s IR signature.

The Air Force is looking to buy 105 HH-60Ws and requested $792 million in fiscal 2022 for 14 aircraft.

Last year, the Air Force tagged the HH-60W as the Jolly Green II in homage to the HH-3E “Jolly Green Giant,” also built by Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky unit (Defense Daily, Feb. 27, 2020). The HH-3E rescued downed airmen during the Vietnam War in the late 1960s. The HH-60W is in low-rate initial production and entered the latter in September, 2019 with 10 aircraft.