On September 11, 2009, the Coast Guard Acquisition Directorate’s HH-60 Conversion and Sustainment Project, in conjunction with the Coast Guard Aviation Logistics Center H-60 Product Line in Elizabeth City, N.C., delivered the fifth MH-60T “Jayhawk” Medium Range Recovery Helicopter to Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City. This latest delivery is a key step towards achieving Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the MH-60T project. IOC officially begins in October.
The MH-60T has already achieved operational success in the field. In August 2009, an MH-60T aircrew was diverted from a routine training flight to assist a diver suffering symptoms of decompression sickness off the coast of Wilmington, N.C. The crew successfully evacuated the diver to Duke University Hospital Center for treatment.
Two of the five MH-60Ts delivered to date are stationed at Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile, Ala., to support aircrew training.
Background on MH-60T Project:
The MH-60T project was developed to enhance the multi-mission capabilities of the HH-60 aircraft. This project includes a number of upgrades to improve reliability and mission performance while adding new capabilities via Electro-Optical/Infrared Sensing System (ESS) and Airborne Use of Force (AUF) packages. All project segments for each of the Coast Guard’s 42 H-60 aircraft are scheduled to be completed by 2020.
Among the upgrades, the Common Avionics Architecture System replaces older cockpit components and provides fully integrated flight and mission management capabilities. Using five multi-function display screens, aircrews can display radar and forward-looking-infrared data, monitor the Traffic Collision Avoidance System and view imagery fed into the cockpit from the rescue hoist camera. Enhanced radar and optical sensors also contribute to an improved common operating picture and maritime domain awareness.
The AUF package increases the MH-60T’s capability by equipping it with a 7.62mm machine gun to fire warning shots and a .50 caliber long range rifle for precise targeting, such as disabling the outboard engines on a non-compliant “go-fast” vessel. The package also provides ballistic armor for aircrew protection and upgraded communications sub-systems for better interoperability with other Dept of Homeland Security components.
The Coast Guard has established a transition training regimen to qualify HH-60 aircrews on the operations and maintenance of the new “T” model. To date, 45 pilots and 16 aviation technicians have been fully qualified on the MH-60T’s mission systems.