On Friday, August 8, a Coast Guard HC‐130H Long Range Surveillance Aircraft flying from Air Station Clearwater, Fla. diverted from a training mission to assist a disabled 30 foot catamaran. The Coast Guard crew picked up a radio transmission between the disabled vessel and a second vessel and used the newly instaled Selex Seaspray 7500E radar to locate both vessels from a distance of approximately 30 nautical miles.
The Coast Guard crew diverted to the scene and found the second vessel, a “tug and tow”, attempting to assist the disabled catamaran. “As soon as we turned in that direction, we picked up both the sailboat and the tug and tow on the radar, and we were able to tell that they were two distinct vessels. The tug and tow was pretty big, and less than one mile away from the 30 foot catamaran sailboat, so we were very impressed with the radar’s ability to detect the target (the catamaran) as a unique target,” said LT Jessica Bylsma, the pilot.
The Seaspray 7500E, built by Selex Galileo of Edinburgh, U.K., is a state‐of‐the‐market, active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. The new radar provides enhanced capabilities including higher resolution and greater reliability than its aging predecessor, the APS‐137 radar, which due to high maintenance costs and parts obsolescence is being replaced. The Seaspray also includes more advanced search features and greater operational time between required maintenance periods. Additionally, the radar’s common software architecture will facilitate future software upgrades, mitigating past technology obsolescence challenges.
The 7500E prototype was installed by Selex on the first Coast Guard HC‐130H—the same aircraft used in this mission‐‐in February 2007 at the Coast Guard Aircraft Repair and Supply Center (ARSC) in Elizabeth City, N.C. Following an extensive and successful period of developmental and operational testing and evaluation, including more than 450 hours of operation, the Coast Guard made the decision to install the Seaspray 7500E radar on 16 additional HC‐130H aircraft. Total value of this project is estimated at $49 million.
Captain Doug Menders, Coast Guard Aviation Acquisition Program Manager, said, “We look forward to working with the Selex Galileo and Pegasus team to provide our aircrews with a capable and reliable airbornedetection system for the Coast Guard’s long‐range surveillance maritime patrol aircraft mission.”
Production installation of the Seaspray 7500E is being accomplished at the Selex facility in Kiln, Miss. and is scheduled to be completed on all Coast Guard HC‐130H aircraft, at the rate of one approximately every 30 days, by the first quarter of fiscal year 2010.