The HC-144 Ocean Sentry and the C-27J Spartan make up the Coast Guard’s medium range surveillance aircraft fleet. These aircraft are instrumental in providing the capability necessary for the Coast Guard to fulfill its maritime patrol, drug and migrant interdiction, disaster response, and search and rescue missions more effectively.
How are the upgrades implemented?
The program was established in fiscal year 2002 to expand the Coast Guard’s patrol hour capacity and replace the aging aircraft fleet. The Coast Guard needed greater endurance to remain on-scene longer and track targets for longer periods of time. Improved sensor capability and increased passenger capacity also were identified as necessary for better mission effectiveness.
How is the fleet being acquired?
The medium range surveillance fleet includes 18 HC-144 Ocean Sentries. Ocean Sentries are capable of carrying out a wide range of Coast Guard surveillance, search and rescue, and transport missions and are outfitted with Minotaur mission system workstations, which are comprised of an integrated suite of can be outfitted with mission system pallets, a roll-on, roll-off suite of electronic equipment that enables the aircrew to compile data from the aircraft's multiple integrated sensors to transmit and receive both classified and unclassified information from other assets including other aircraft, surface vessels and shore facilities. With multiple voice and data communications capabilities and satellite communications, the HC-144 is contributing, via a networked Command and Control system, to the common tactical picture and common operating picture. The aircraft is also equipped with a vessel automatic identification system, direction finding equipment, an electro-optical/infrared system and a multi-mode search radar to improve the Ocean Sentry’s situational awareness and responsiveness.
The Coast Guard is also in the process of receiving and missionizing 14 C-27J aircraft that are being transferred from the U.S. Air Force under the direction of the National Defense Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2014. The multi-year project is supported by the C-27J Asset Project Office, which was stood up in Elizabeth City, N.C. The APO’s primary mission is to provide a purposeful, sequential plan to incorporate the C-27Js into Coast Guard operations. Specific functionalities of the APO include development of Coast Guard-specific operational and maintenance procedures, training plans, technical manuals, a logistics program and test and evaluation procedures. Airworthiness certifications must be obtained for all aircraft before they can be utilized. As originally delivered, the C-27Js are outfitted with weather radar and communications equipment capable of supporting transport and other Coast Guard missions. Future modifications, including specialized components such as surface search radar and electro-optical/infrared sensors, are planned to enhance the aircraft’s capability to carry out the full range of Coast Guard missions.