Continuing its record of taking HC-144A deliveries on-time and on-budget, Coast Guard officials signed for the 13th HC-144A Ocean Sentry Maritime Patrol Aircraft on Jan. 27, two months earlier than the contractual delivery date. Upon departing this week from Airbus Military’s assembly line in Seville, Spain, the aircraft, numbered CG-2313, will be flown to the Coast Guard’s Aviation Logistics Center (ALC) in Elizabeth City, N.C.
This was the second of three HC-144As to be delivered under a firm fixed-price contract with EADS North America. The 12th HC-144A was delivered last summer four months ahead of schedule. The 14th aircraft is in production and scheduled to be delivered by July. The contract also includes options for up to six additional aircraft over four years. The first option, for the 15th aircraft, was exercised in August 2011. The service is planning for a fleet of 36 fully missionized HC-144As.
“For the second time in a row, the early delivery of an HC-144A demonstrates that our sponsor’s representatives, technical authorities and acquisition professionals are working together to ensure that this airframe fully meets all its contractual requirements,” said Coast Guard Deputy Assistant Commandant for Acquisition Michael Tangora. “With the Coast Guard as the systems integrator, we are bringing new capabilities to our front line operators efficiently and cost-effectively.”
The aircraft will depart Seville to then be entered into the ALC’s asset and logistics management information system before commencing operational patrols. Air Station Cape Cod, Mass., is the next air station scheduled to receive the HC-144A.
The HC-144A is a fixed-wing turbo-prop derivative of the EADS/Airbus Military CN-235 in use around the world. With an endurance of more than 10 hours, extensive sensor capability and passenger capacity, this medium-range surveillance aircraft enables the Coast Guard to fulfill its maritime patrol, drug and migrant interdiction, disaster response, and search and rescue missions more effectively. Currently operating out of air stations at Mobile, Ala., and Miami, the HC-144A is replacing the service’s aging fleet of HU-25s.
With the help of an HC-144A out of Air Station Miami, the Coast Guard rescued four fishermen on Dec. 14 who had been stranded at sea for five days about 50 miles south of Andros Island. The Coast Guard received a report through the Royal Bahamas Defence Force that two small fishing boats launched from a larger fishing vessel did not return as scheduled. After a privately owned aircraft crew in the area spotted the stranded fishermen and reported their location to the Coast Guard, the HC-144A’s aircrew located the fishermen and dropped a communications radio and food. The Coast Guard then launched an MH-60 helicopter crew from Air Station Clearwater, Fla., to hoist the four fishermen out of the water and complete the rescue.
For more information on the HC-144A Ocean Sentry, please visit the project’s website at http://www.uscg.mil/acquisition/MRS.