On August 19, 2009, the United States Coast Guard took delivery of its fourth missionized HC-130J “Hercules” Long Range Surveillance aircraft (number CG 2004), at Lockheed Martin’s Greenville Operations Facility in Greenville, S.C., nine days ahead of contract schedule. After approximately one week of routine maintenance, CG 2004 will begin operational duty at Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C. The fifth and sixth aircrafts are scheduled for delivery in December 2009 and May 2010.
The Coast Guard’s missionized HC-130J is an integral component of the Service’s plan to modernize its fleet of aircraft, cutters, and shore-based command centers with enhanced sensor and communication equipment to support all statutorily mandated missions in the 21st Century. The first C-130 in the world to feature a belly-mounted, 360-degree, multi-mode surface search radar, the aircraft already has proven itself in operation. Between October and December 2008, while flying in support of counter-narcotics operations for Joint Interagency Task Force-South, HC-130J crews detected 16 smuggling vessels using the aircraft’s senor package. Those detections resulted in the seizure of three “go-fast” smuggling boats, 16 tons of cocaine, one quarter ton of marijuana, and the apprehension of nine suspected drug smugglers. As a result, Air Station Elizabeth City was recognized by Mr. Patrick Ward, U.S. Interdiction Coordinator, for its outstanding contributions to the operation.
Through INMARSAT broadband service and a HF datalink, the aircraft connects to Coast Guard and DoD networks and is enhanced further by a full suite of installed secure voice communications, including military and commercial satellite communications, HF/ VHF/UHF voice and civilian police/EMS/first-responder communications channels.
The aircraft, which is more efficient and 25% faster than legacy C-130 models, also flies with a smaller six-person crew. The operator stations have a high degree of commonality with the HC-144 “Ocean Sentry” Medium-Range Surveillance aircraft, allowing mission systems operators to transition easily between the two aircraft. Unlike legacy sensor systems, the HC-130J mission system suite is designed for full system functionality, with no reduction to the aircraft’s six-pallet cargo capacity, allowing the HC-130J to deliver a full load of response gear to a critical area, while maintaining its sensor capabilities for surveillance or search and rescue. The HC-130J is based on the Lockheed C-130J platform, which comes equipped with state-of-the art avionics, six-bladed Dowty propellers, and Rolls-Royce AE2100D engines. The aircraft’s equipment outfitting shares commonality with DoD, which allows it to operate globally and enables it to keep pace with rapidly-changing Global Air Traffic Management equipment requirements through participation in the C-130J Block Upgrade program.
For more information on the Coast Guard’s HC-130 LRS project, please visit http://www.uscg.mil/acquisition/lrs/.