The Coast Guard’s Assistant Commandant for Capability has cleared the HC-144A Ocean Sentry Maritime Patrol Aircraft for some operational missions, under guidelines described by the service’s requirements documentation. The clearance, called Initial Operational Capability (IOC), is a major step forward for the HC-144A project, which will deliver 36 new aircraft and associated Mission System Pallets by 2020. The HC-144A is replacing the Coast Guard’s aging fleet of HU-25 Guardian (Falcon) jets.
Previously delivered HC-144A aircraft, flying under the acquisition project’s test and evaluation phase, have proven their capabilities in the field. For example, in March 2009, an HC-144A participated in the highly publicized search and rescue effort following the capsizing of a small fishing boat carrying four men, including two professional athletes, 38 miles west of Tampa Bay, Fla. The HC-144A’s sensors, loitering capability, endurance, and passenger capacity suited the mission requirements and demonstrated that the Ocean Sentry is well-matched to the multi-mission Coast Guard it will serve.
The Ocean Sentry’s Mission System Pallet includes a pair of operator workstations and a suite of electronic equipment that collects, compiles, interprets and disseminates data from the aircraft’s integrated sensors (including a surface search radar and an Electro-Optical/Infra-Red (EO/IR) imager), and electronic surveillance equipment that improves Coast Guard situational awareness and responsiveness. A first for Coast Guard aviation, the Mission System Pallet’s communication suite is capable of transmitting and receiving Secret-level information via the Department of Defense’s Secure Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNET), improving the Coast Guard’s interoperability with other agencies.
With multiple voice and data communication capabilities, including UHF/VHF, HF, and Military and Commercial Satellite Communications (SATCOM), the HC-144A is able to contribute to and receive a Common Tactical Picture (CTP) and Common Operating Picture (COP) through a networked Command and Control (C2) system which provides data sharing via SATCOM. The aircraft systems are TEMPEST certified, meaning they meet current federal requirements to guard against the potential emanation of intelligence-compromising electromagnetic radiation (EMR) from computer and telecommunications equipment.
For more information, check out the HC-144A "Ocean Sentry" Web site.