12th HC-144A Ocean Sentry delivered to US Coast Guard
Airbus Military with prime contractor EADS North America have delivered to the US Coast Guard its 12th HC-144A Ocean Sentry maritime patrol aircraft, four months ahead of the contract delivery date.
The aircraft arrived Aug. 3 at Coast Guard Aviation Logistics Center Elizabeth City, N.C., and will next pass to the Coast Guard's Aviation Training Center in Mobile, Ala., to begin operational patrols. The aircraft is expected to transfer to Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod, Mass., when that facility transitions to the HC-144A from the aging HU-25 "Guardian."
The HC-144A is based on the highly successful 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 no later than September of this year. Coast Guard plans call for acquiring a total of 36 HC-144As.
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.
Airbus Military and EADS North America deliver 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.
Source: Aibus Military
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