The US Air Force’s 943rd Rescue Group (RQG) has introduced a concept to mount four additional M240 machine guns onto the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter.

The combat search and rescue aircraft’s existing configuration involves two guns in any combination of the GAU-2C 7.62mm minigun, GAU 18/A .50 caliber machine gun, or M240 machine gun.

The minigun is incompatible with the four-gun concept because of the power it requires to operate, while the chopper’s floor design is unable to support the torque applied by the .50 caliber machine gun.

However, M240 machine guns provide the right combination of attributes for a four-gun configuration on the rescue helicopter.

“The M240 is multicapable equipment for our personnel recovery task force that will enable us to perform contested-area combat search and rescue, logistics under attack, and agile combat employment,” 920th RQW commander Col. Jes Hamilton said.

“It will increase our offensive and defensive capabilities, at an extremely low cost, and give us flexibility for air and land use around the world.” 

943d Security Forces Squadron commander Lt. Col. Joseph Romeo secures an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter door with two M240s mounted inside Nov. 22, 2022. Image: Andre Trinidad/ US Air Force

The Concept

The RQG added an aircraft mount used by the 55th and 71st Special Operations Squadrons for their .50 caliber gunship to a base stand.

The group then worked along with industry partners to mount the M240 gun on a patrol boat gun mount, primarily used for the MK99 gun.

The 355th Maintenance Group at Davis-Monthan AFB fabricated gun mount stops for proper operations in the aircraft.

HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter
Two M240s are mounted inside an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter Nov. 22, 2022. Image: Andre Trinidad/ US Air Force

Transferable to Replacement Aircraft

The cost-effective concept is transferable to the Sikorsky helicopter’s replacement, HH-60W Jolly Green II, which achieved initial operational capability last month

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The additional gun mounts can be removed “within seconds” if the aircraft is required for operations such as “mass casualty, noncombatant evacuation operation, or embassy evacuation.”

“As agile combat employment operations advance, this airborne platform can become a land-based, defensive fighting position to defend an Initial Contingency Location (ICL)/Temporary Contingency Location or ICL-Forward,” said 943d Security Forces Squadron commander Lt. Col. Joe Romeo.

An operational test of the concept will be conducted with the Air Guard Air Reserve Test Center before deployment.