USCG MH-65E programme begins IOT&E
The US Coast Guard has completed low rate initial production (LRIP) and begun initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) on the MH-65E short range recovery helicopters.
LRIP is the first phase, which allows the coast guard to review and validate improvements required after the initial work on the prototype and validation/verification, CG-6587, aircraft.
The USCG began IOT&E activities on two of the three aircraft that have been converted to the Echo configuration, the LRIP and validation/verification aircraft on 7 January 2019. A total of 21 ground events and 56 flights have been planned for IOT&E. There will be three test periods and one make-up test period that take place in a three-month period.
A final test report of data collected from both the operational assessment and IOT&E will be used to support a decision for the programme to move into full rate production. The programme expects an ADE-3 decision in the first quarter of fiscal year 2020. Projected completion of the MH-65E conversion for all 98 aircrafts is fiscal year 2024.
The USCG will also move on to the MH-65E avionics upgrades and Service Life Extension Program (SLEP). The avionics upgrades will include improvements for the automatic flight control system; and installation of a digital cockpit display system and an upgraded digital weather/surface search radar. Upgrades also include integration of a C4ISR suite and modernisation of the digital flight deck with common avionics architecture system.
The SLEP activities are being carried out to replace five major structure components – the nine-degree frame, canopy, center console floor assembly, floorboards and side panels. These mission-critical improvements are designed to extend the service life of the helicopter by 10,000 flight hours.
Work was finished on the first H-65, CG 6556, to complete SLEP activities and the avionics upgrade in a joint production line.
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