The Coast Guard’s aviation recapitalization efforts show continued success as the seventh HC-144A “Ocean Sentry” Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA), Tail Number (CG 2307), was formally accepted at EADS construction facility in Seville, Spain, on March 16, 2009 (recognized by the signing of the DD-250 document [with zero discrepancies] at Coast Guard Headquarters). The aircraft is scheduled to depart Spain for the Coast Guard Aviation Logistics Center in Elizabeth City, N.C., in May 2009. Service plans call for a fleet of 36 fully missionized HC-144As by 2020.
Part of the Coast Guard’s Deepwater Major Acquisition Program, the HC-144As will replace the in-service fleet of HU-25 Falcon jets. The HC-144A is a derivative of the EADS/CASA CN-235-300 and significantly enhances the mission execution capability of Coast Guard aircrews. This fixed-wing turbo prop aircraft will perform various missions, including maritime patrol, law enforcement, search and rescue, disaster response, and cargo and personnel transport. Additionally, the “Ocean Sentry” provides the added operational capability of a hydraulic-operated rear ramp, with superb fuel efficiency--consuming less fuel than the HU-25 or HC-130.
When equipped with its roll-on, roll-off Mission System Pallet (MSP) suite of electronic equipment, the aircraft crew is able to compile data from the aircraft’s multiple integrated sensors and transmit and receive both classified “Secret”-level and unclassified information to and from other assets, including surface vessels, other aircraft, local law enforcement, and shore facilities. With multiple voice and data communications capabilities, including UHF/VHF, HF, and Military and Commercial Satellite Communications (SATCOM), the HC-144A will be able to contribute to 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 is also equipped with a vessel Automatic Identification System, direction-finding equipment, surface search radar, an Electro-Optical/Infra-Red system, and electronic surveillance measures equipment to improve situational awareness and responsiveness. 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.
Previously delivered HC-144A aircraft already have proven their capabilities in the field. On February 5, 2009, the HC-144A stood watch for the first time. It was immediately put to the test when it launched to respond to distress signal coming from a fishing vessel approx 225 nautical miles southwest of ATC Mobile. The aircrew acquired the fishing vessel with radar and shortly thereafter with EO/IR. Once on scene, they established communications with the vessel and determined the vessel was no longer in distress. The HC-144A also 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., in March 2009. In both cases, the HC-144A’s long range, loitering capability, endurance, and passenger capacity suited to the requirements of the mission, demonstrating the HC-144A is well-matched to the multi-mission Coast Guard it will serve.
For more information on the HC-144A Ocean Sentry, please visit the project’s website at http://www.uscg.mil/acquisition/MRS.