The MH-60T Jayhawk service life extension program (SLEP) received approval from the Department of Homeland Security on Feb. 20, 2018, to proceed to the next acquisition phase, allowing the program to move forward with analyzing its options for keeping the service’s medium range recovery helicopter fleet operational through the mid-2030s.
The Coast Guard is completing strategic maintenance and renovation to extend the service life of its MH-60T Jayhawk medium range recovery helicopter fleet.
The Coast Guard’s H-60 helicopters have been in service since 1990. The service established a program in 2002 to upgrade the helicopters to address obsolescence issues and outfit the helicopters with equipment to better meet operational needs. The upgrades completed through that program are planned to keep the helicopters in service through 2027.
The service life extension program (SLEP) will add 10,000 flight hours to the Coast Guard’s MH-60T fleet and keep the helicopters in service through the mid-2030s. This timing aligns with the eventual planned replacement of the MH-60T fleet alongside the Defense Department’s Future Vertical Lift initiative.
The SLEP will also save money. The estimated cost of the service life work is approximately $300 million, whereas acquiring new MH-60Ts at this time would cost approximately $1.7 billion.
The Coast Guard is examining two main options for extending the service life of its MH-60T fleet. The first is to replace the existing fleet with low-flight-hour Navy HH-60H and SH-60F Seahawk hulls after structurally converting them into the MH-60T configuration. The second option is to replace parts in the Coast Guard’s current MH-60Ts to extend their service lives.
To determine the best course of action, the Coast Guard will convert Navy helicopters to MH-60Ts at the Coast Guard Aviation Logistics Center in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. In addition, the Coast Guard will conduct an engineering analysis to determine the feasibility of extending the service life of the existing aircraft. Information from the conversions and the engineering study will be combined in an alternatives analysis to determine how best to proceed.