New Navy Range Support Helicopters for VX-31 "Dust Devils"

SH-60F #461 BuNo 164089 from VX-31 at Edwards AFB, CA11/30/08
Photo: Dan Stijovich

12/7/2008 - For a number of years, one of the additional responsibilities of the VX-31 "Dust Devils" has been flying the Base Flight Range Support and SAR mission for the China Lake Range. Until recently this mission was typically flown using one of the red and white HH-1N helicopters maintained by the squadron at China Lake NAWS. However, the HH-1N has been slowly getting phased out of the Navy fleet and replaced by various H-60 models. Base flight aircraft at Whidbey NAS were recently replaced with MH-60S helicopters, and it now looks like the HH-1N helicopters of VX-31 may be getting replaced.

During the landing of the Space Shuttle Endeavour at Edwards AFB on the afternoon of November 30th, an SH-60F was spotted at the base wearing the markings of VX-31 and side #461. This falls in sequence with other 4xx series modex numbers that the squadron's HH-1N helicopters have worn in the past. This particular SH-60F was last with HS-10 and wore a tan and brown 'lizard' paint scheme, which was left over from when the ship was flown by NSAWC as #71, to simulate Russian Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters.

Source: Dan Stijovich / The North Spin

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