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Coast Guard accepts 16th missionized HC-130J into fleet


The Coast Guard’s 16th fully missionized HC-130J takes off for its first test flight following the year-long missionization and Block Upgrade 8.1 modification at L3Harris in Waco, Texas. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Coast Guard accepted delivery of its 16th fully missionized HC-130J long range surveillance aircraft, CGNR 2016, Feb. 19 following completion of Minotaur mission system integration and Block Upgrade 8.1 installation at L3Harris in Waco, Texas. 

The aircraft was delivered to Air Station Elizabeth City in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, returning that air station to its full complement of five HC-130J aircraft. The air station was temporarily operating with four aircraft while an Elizabeth City HC-130J was assigned to Air Station Barbers Point, Hawaii, to complete the transition of that facility to HC-130J operations.  

The more advanced engines, six-blade propellors and Minotaur-integrated sensors of the HC-130J enable the Coast Guard to better respond to mariners in peril by improving response times, extending time on scene for search and rescue and law enforcement patrols, and increasing effectiveness and versatility. Regarding the latest air station transition, the improvements are ideally suited for Barbers Point’s vast jurisdiction – 12.2 million square miles of open ocean, atolls and island chains, which make up the Coast Guard’s Fourteenth District. 

Three recent natural disasters in Air Station Barbers Point’s area of responsibility have highlighted the value of the improved aircraft, especially the 26% increase in patrol range over the legacy HC-130H. 

  • A Barbers Point HC-130J flew 2,300 miles to be the first aircraft on scene after Typhoon Mawar struck Saipan in May 2023, performing overflight assessments and delivering critically needed relief supplies. Over a week, the aircraft flew over 97 flight hours and dispatched 400,000 pounds of cargo and 169 passengers. 

  • Barbers Point aircrews responded when wildfires burned thousands of acres in Maui, Hawaii, in August 2023, providing search and rescue and damage assessment along with moving passengers and cargo for disaster relief. 

  • Barbers Point HC-130J aircrews answered the call when Tropical Cyclone Lola slammed the island nation of Vanuatu in October 2023, assessing the damage to ports, airports and critical infrastructure. Aircrews also delivered over 80,000 pounds of relief supplies. 

The HC-130J and its Minotaur system also play a vital role in identifying and monitoring illegal fishing by providing surveillance and gathering intelligence on suspicious fishing activities. That information is shared with local and national authorities and aids in determining what vessels need to be boarded for inspection. 

The service’s Super Hercules aircraft carry out many Coast Guard missions, including search and rescue, drug and migrant interdiction, cargo and personnel transport, and maritime stewardship, as well as providing critical support to Department of Homeland Security partners. The aircraft also can serve as a command and control or surveillance platform capable of identifying and classifying objects and sharing that information with operational forces. 

For more information: HC-130J Long Range Surveillance Aircraft Program page and Minotaur Mission System page