Tuesday, March 13, 2018

USCG's Quiet Upgrade

While the Navy is grumping a lot over upgrading its force, something has happened over on the USCG side of the house. Digging around for change in the sofa, picking up a few items their neighbors left on the curb, dropping a few things off at the neighborhood mechanic & body shop, and a little good luck - the USCG has some nice new kit, especially in the air.

It is a good time to be a USCG aviator;

Craig Collins has a nice summary.
Much public attention has been paid to the Coast Guard’s new generation of surface assets – the Legend-class national security cutters (NSCs), the Sentinel-class fast response cutters (FRCs), and the Heritage-class offshore patrol cutters (OPCs) – but perhaps less so their counterparts in the air.
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The new generation of the Coast Guard’s long-range surveillance and transport aircraft, for example, the HC-130J Super Hercules, is a nose-to-tail overhaul of the previous generation of HC-130Hs, with new Rolls-Royce turboprop engines, composite scimitar propellers, and digital avionics. These upgrades have increased the range of the aircraft by 40 percent and its top speed by 15 percent, while decreasing its takeoff distance by 15 percent. But the aircraft’s most important enhancement may be its suite of command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) components, which combine radio and digital transmission of voice and data.
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Over the past decade, the Coast Guard has been phasing out its older HU-25 Guardian, a high-speed medium-range aircraft that was finally retired from service in 2014. Its replacement, the HC-144 Ocean Sentry, was phased in at Coast Guard air stations beginning in 2009. The Ocean Sentry was a marked improvement, offering the Coast Guard the ability to remain on scene and track targets for longer periods of time – up to 10 hours – with improved sensor capability and room for more passengers. ...
The Coast Guard fleet of 102 Dolphin helicopters, meanwhile, is in the final segment of a similar incremental upgrade, a transformation into MH-65E short-range recovery helicopters. The -E series features new radar, EO/IR sensors, and a CAAS cockpit similar to the Jayhawk’s.By 2014, the service had acquired 18 Ocean Sentries, and the HC-144 was logging more flight hours annually than any other Coast Guard aircraft.

The Coast Guard’s original plan called for a fleet of 36 Ocean Sentries – but this plan was altered when Congress, in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014, directed the service to cease its HC-144 program and instead acquire and missionize 14 C-27J Spartan aircraft, to be transferred from the U.S. Air Force. The Ocean Sentry and the Spartan are twin-engine turboprops, similar in configuration – according to Kimball, the Spartan is faster, with greater range, endurance, and lift capability – and will play similar roles in medium-range surveillance.
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...beginning in 2007, the Coast Guard began an overhaul of its 42 Jayhawk helicopters, converting them from HH-60Js into multimission MH-60Ts. This upgrade, which was completed in 2014, ...

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