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​​Rescue airmen walk toward an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter at Avon Park Air Force Range, Fla., Oct. 9, 2014. Air Force Photo by A1C Ryan Callaghan

​Air Combat Command officials have made progress in defining key requirements for the HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter since the Air Force awarded the $1.28 billion development contract to Sikorsky Aircraft last June, ACC officials told Air Force Magazine. The HH-60W program's system requirements review is underway, said Maj. Joel Soukup, rotary wing branch chief in ACC's personnel recovery requirements division. ACC anticipates that the preliminary design review will be held by April 2016, with the critical design review taking place by spring 2017. HH-60W flight testing is scheduled for Fiscal 2019, added Soukup in the recent interview, with the target of Fiscal 2021 for having the first unit of combat-ready HH-60Ws available for use. Programmers have a good amount of confidence in the schedule because many of the variables the program office must work out are "non-developmental," he said, since the HH-60W is modeled on the same airframe as the service's existing HH-60G Pave Hawk. "The state of the program is very good, and we have a way forward," said William Young, ACC's personnel recovery weapons systems division chief. "We recognize the CRH is not a revolutionary leap in technology; it's more evolutionary," he added. Nonetheless, when fielded, it will be "the most modern rescue helicopter in the world … with a ton of capability that the Air Force has never had," said Young.