New Aircraft To Initially Fly Patrol From Mobile, AL
The 12th HC-144A Ocean Sentry maritime patrol aircraft has been
delivered to Coast Guard Aviation Logistics Center Elizabeth City,
NC, according to prime contractor EADS North America. The aircraft
arrived August 3, and will next pass to the Coast Guard’s
Aviation Training Center in Mobile, AL, to begin operational
patrols. The aircraft is expected to transfer to Coast Guard Air
Station Cape Cod, MA, when that facility transitions to the HC-144A
from the aging HU-25 “Guardian.”
HC-144A Ocean Sentry
The HC-144A is based on the Airbus Military CN235 tactical
airlifter, more than 250 of which are operated by 26 countries. The
Ocean Sentry plays a crucial role in Coast Guard aviation missions
that include maritime patrol,
intelligence/surveillance/reconnaissance, cargo and personnel
transport, and disaster relief.
The latest Ocean Sentry delivery is the first under a $117
million contract that calls for the 13th and 14th aircraft to
deliver in 2012, with options for up to six additional aircraft.
The Coast Guard has said it expects to exercise the contract option
for what will be its 15th HC-144A by October of this year. Coast
Guard plans call for acquiring a total of 36 HC-144As.
“The HC-144A has the flexibility and endurance needed to
meet the Coast Guard’s amazingly broad range of mission
requirements, from drug interdiction to search and rescue, often in
a single flight,” said Sean O’Keefe, EADS North America
CEO. “Having Ocean Sentries in the air significantly
multiplies the value and mission effectiveness of the Coast
Guard’s surface vessels.”
The turboprop HC-144A can remain airborne for more than nine
hours, compared to just four hours for the legacy HU-25 jet that it
is replacing. This high endurance allows aircrews to stay on
station longer during search and rescue, patrol or persistent
surveillance operations. EADS North America delivers the HC-144A
equipped with a search radar, electro-optical and infrared cameras,
an Automatic Identification System for data collection from vessels
at sea, and a communications suite.
The Ocean Sentry’s rear cargo ramp enables easy
loading/unloading of the Coast Guard's palletized mission system.
During airlift, cargo, and MEDEVAC missions, the mission system is
removed, freeing up the aircraft’s large cabin for additional
transport capacity. The rear ramp also can be opened in flight to
deploy search-and-rescue equipment.
The HC-144A achieved initial operational capability in 2008, and
has since distinguished itself with exceptional performance in a
variety of high-profile missions, including the Coast Guard’s
responses to the Haiti earthquake and the Deepwater Horizon oil
spill in 2010.