USCG To Buy HC-144A Maritime Patrol Aircraft
The U.S. Coast Guard has awarded prime contractor EADS North
America a $117 million contract for three HC-144A Ocean Sentry
Maritime Patrol Aircraft, with options for up to six more aircraft
over the next four years. The HC-144A is based on the highly
successful Airbus Military CN235 tactical airlifter, more than 250
of which are in operation 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 HC-144A achieved initial operational capability last year,
and has since distinguished itself with exceptional performance in
a variety of situations, including the Coast Guard’s
responses to the Haiti earthquake and the Deepwater Horizon oil
spill. Ocean Sentries have even been used to transport
rehabilitated wildlife affected by the spill.
“The men and women of the Coast Guard have an incredibly
wide-ranging and challenging mission,” said Ralph D. Crosby
Jr., EADS North America Chairman. “This year we’ve seen
the HC-144A tested in some very high-profile missions, and it has
delivered every time.”
The Coast Guard currently operates ten Ocean Sentries and will
receive another later this year. EADS North America will begin
deliveries of the aircraft covered by this latest contract award in
2011. Plans call for the Coast Guard to acquire a total fleet of 36
Ocean Sentries. The HC-144A is replacing the Coast Guard’s
fleet of HU-25 Guardian Falcon jets.
EADS North America will deliver the HC-144A with a search radar,
electro-optical and infrared cameras, an Automatic Identification
System for data collection from vessels at sea, and a
communications suite. A rear ramp allows for easy cargo operations,
and also accommodates a roll-on-roll-off mission systems pallet
that the Coast Guard is acquiring separately for the Ocean Sentry.
The HC-144 offers superior range and loiter time, allowing it to
stay on station longer during search and rescue, patrol or
persistent surveillance operations.
The Coast Guard also operates the EADS North America HH-65C and
MH-65C Dolphin helicopters. The Dolphin has a distinguished service
record with the Coast Guard – including extensive operations
in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and again in the Haiti earthquake
and Gulf oil spill responses. The service’s Dolphin
helicopter fleet has been upgraded with new engines and
systems/avionics in recapitalization programs supported by EADS