The Coast Guard began converting its 42 legacy HH-60J aircraft to MH-60Ts in January 2007, the medium range responder helicopters under the Deepwater Program. The U.S. Coast Guard’s first HH-60J is scheduled to complete conversion to the MH-60T prototype in June 2007.
This conversion effort is necessary because the HH-60J’s avionics hardware will become unsupportable due to lack of production components and discontinued manufacturing processes by 2007. Continued equipment software support will be uneconomical or completely unavailable by 2015. Over the years, the HH-60J’s five avionics subsystems—auto flight, communications, navigation, equipment, and indicators/records— have been plagued by a rapid increase in equipment failure rate. Of these systems, navigation is by far the largest and the key driver for many of the HH-60J avionics upgrades. Initial funds were provided under the Deepwater Program to initiate the upgrades because the service recognized the HH-60J would remain the workhorse for Coast Guard aviation.
Although the upgrade from the “J” to “T” model is designed as an aviation legacy sustainment project, the updated hardware and software technology will also provide additional capabilities. Although the aircraft will look very similar on the outside, they will be completely different aircraft on the inside. A new CAAS Cockpit will include five multi-functional display, or MFD screens, which allow both pilots to view a multitude of options. The Coast Guard Avionic Selection and Placement team preferred a full screen display of Radar, Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) and hoist camera images which led to a slight modification from the split-screen option used by the Army. The team simplified pilot transition from “J” to “T” through traditional display of primary flight instruments on the Pilot’s Flight Display (PFD). Situational awareness was increased in several aspects. The altitude gyroscope was spread across the display. The radar altimeter was enlarged and verbal low altitude altering features were added to enhance safety during night hovering. The triple tachometer, which measures torque and rotor speed, was incorporated directly into the PFD.
Missionization work is underway on the first Coast Guard C-130J at the Lockheed Martin Aircraft Logistics Center in Greenville, S.C. Plans call for all six of the service's C-130J aircraft to be outfitted with interoperable mission packages for long range surveillance under the Deepwater Program.
This first aircraft was inducted by the C-130J team late last December and is now undergoing extensive modifications including installation of a belly-mounted surface search radar, nose-mounted electro-optical infrared sensor and a flight deck mission operator station. The project was assigned to Deepwater to ensure integration and interoperability with all new and existing aviation assets, including its legacy fleet of C-130H aircraft.
The Coast Guard is scheduled to accept the first aircraft in September 2007,
with completion of the missionization program by Fall 2008.