Sikorsky HH-60 Pave Hawk

A U.S. Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk assigned to the 46th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron prepares to take flight at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, July 27, 2022. The Pave Hawk is a twin-turboshaft engine helicopter in service in the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeffery Foster)

The Sikorsky MH-60G/HH-60G Pave Hawk is a twin turboshaft engine helicopter in service with the United States Air Force. It is a derivative of the UH-60 Black Hawk and incorporates the US Air Force PAVE electronic systems program. The HH-60/MH-60 is a member of the Sikorsky S-70 family.

The MH-60G Pave Hawk's primary mission is insertion and recovery of special operations personnel, while the HH-60G Pave Hawk's core mission is recovery of personnel under stressful conditions, including search and rescue. Both versions conduct day or night operations into hostile environments. Because of its versatility, the HH-60G may also perform peace-time operations. Such tasks include civil search and rescue, emergency aeromedical evacuation (MEDEVAC), disaster relief, international aid, counter-drug activities and NASA space shuttle support.

Role Combat Search and Rescue helicopter
Manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation
Status In service
Primary users United States Air Force
Republic of Korea Air Force
Unit cost US$15.8 million
Developed from Sikorsky S-70


Design and development

In 1981, the U.S. Air Force chose the UH-60A Black Hawk to replace its HH-3E Jolly Green Giant helicopters. After acquiring some UH-60s, the Air Force began upgrading each with an air refueling probe and additional fuel tanks in the cabin. The machine guns were changed from 0.308 in (7.62 mm) M60s to 0.50 in (12.7 mm) XM218s. These helicopters were referred to as "Credible Hawks" and entered service in 1987.

Afterward, the Credible Hawks and new UH-60As were upgraded and designated MH-60G Pave Hawk. These upgrades were to be done in a two step process. But funding only allowed 16 Credible Hawks to receive the second step equipment. These helicopters were allocated to special operations use. The remaining 82 Credible Hawks received the first step upgrade equipment and were used for combat search and rescue. In 1991, these search and rescue Pave Hawks were redesignated HH-60G.

The Pave Hawk is a highly-modified version of the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk. It features an upgraded communications and navigation suite that includes an integrated inertial navigation/global positioning/Doppler navigation systems, satellite communications, secure voice, and Have Quick communications. The term PAVE stands for Precision Avionics Vectoring Equipment.

An HH-60 at the 2007 Paris Air Show

All HH-60Gs have an automatic flight control system, night vision goggles lighting and forward looking infrared system that greatly enhances night low-level operations. Additionally, some Pave Hawks have color weather radar and an engine/rotor blade anti-ice system that gives the HH-60G an all-weather capability. Pave Hawk mission equipment includes a retractable in-flight refueling probe, internal auxiliary fuel tanks, two crew-served (or pilot-controlled) 7.62 mm miniguns or .50-caliber machine guns and an 8,000 pound (3,600 kg) capacity cargo hook. To improve air transportability and shipboard operations, all HH-60Gs have folding rotor blades.

Pave Hawk combat enhancements include a radar warning receiver, infrared jammer and a flare/chaff countermeasure dispensing system. HH-60G rescue equipment includes a hoist capable of lifting a 600 pound (270 kg) load from a hover height of 200 feet (60 m), and a personnel locating system. A number of Pave Hawks are equipped with an over-the-horizon tactical data receiver that is capable of receiving near real-time mission update information.

Specifications (HH-60G)

A New York Air National Guard HH-60G during a visit to South Africa in September 2004


Data from USAF 2008 Almanac USAF fact sheet,

General characteristics

  • Crew: 4 (2 pilots, flight engineer, gunner)
  • Capacity: max. crew 6, 8–12 troops, plus litters and/or other cargo
  • Length: 64 ft 10 in (17.1 m)
  • Rotor diameter: 53 ft 8 in (14.1 m)
  • Height: 16 ft 8 in (5.1 m)
  • Empty weight: 16,000 lb (7,260 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 22,000 lb (9,900 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × two General Electric T700-GE-700/701C free-turbine turboshafts, 1,630 shp (1,220 kW) each


  • Maximum speed: 195 knots (224 mph, 360 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 159 kt (184 mph, 294 km/h)
  • Range: 373 mi (internal fuel), or 508 mi (with external tanks) (600 km, or 818 km)
  • Service ceiling: 14,000 ft (4,267 m)


  • 2x 7.62 mm (0.308 in) miniguns or
  • 2x 0.50 in (12.7 mm) GAU-18/As

Onboard Systems

  • INS/GPS/Doppler navigation
  • SATCOM satellite communications
  • Secure/anti-jam communications
  • LARS (Lightweight Airborne Recovery System) range/steering radio to compatible survivor radios
  • Automatic flight control
  • NVG night vision goggle lighting
  • FLIR forward looking infra-red radar
  • Color weather radar
  • Engine/rotor blade anti-ice system
  • Retractable In-flight refueling probe
  • Integral rescue hoist
  • RWR combat enhancement
  • IR infra-red jamming unit
  • flare/chaff countermeasure dispensing system


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