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The Coast Guard MH-65 program receives approval to proceed with full rate production.

The Coast Guard on March 12, 2019, awarded a contract to Tyonek Manufacturing Group, Inc. of Madison, Alabama, to procure 89 wiring harness packages for its MH-65 short range recovery helicopters.

The Coast Guard completed low rate initial production on Dec. 28, 2018 and began initial operational test and evaluation on the MH-65E helicopter on Jan. 7, 2019.


MH-65 Short Range Recovery Helicopter

MH-65 over Houston

For more photos of the MH-65 Short Range Recovery Helicopter, visit the image gallery on Flickr.

The Coast Guard is incrementally upgrading its H-65 series, Dolphin, short range recovery helicopter fleet with new engines, avionics and other capabilities.

Why this program?

The H-65 Dolphin has been in the Coast Guard’s inventory since 1984. Expected to remain in service through 2027, the Coast Guard is upgrading the helicopters with state-of-the-market enhancements that will extend mission capabilities and improve their reliability and maintainability. The conversion and sustainment project adds digital technology, including GPS and inertial navigation, flight control, weather radar and cockpit instruments. Since 2007, the entire fleet has been equipped with new engines that add 40 percent more power and airborne use of force capabilities, redesignating the aircraft MH-65s.

How are the upgrades implemented?

The MH-65 conversion and sustainment project is accomplished in six phases or complementary discrete segments. The Coast Guard upgrades the aircraft at the Aviation Logistics Center in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, where engineers and technical authorities on the MH-65 product line install, test and evaluate the new equipment. Each segment upgrades and modernizes major components and sub-components and sets a baseline for future upgrades in the helicopters’ mission capabilities. When the final phase of the upgrades is complete, the aircraft will be redesignated as MH-65Es.




The short range recovery helicopter performs search and rescue, law enforcement and homeland security missions. Certified for operation in all-weather and night-time operations, with the exception of icy conditions, the MH-65 helicopter is the only Coast Guard aircraft used aboard certified cutters during deployments.


  • Length (with rotor blades): 44 feet 5 inches
  • Rotor Diameter: 39 feet 2inches
  • Height: 13 feet 3inches
  • Maximum Weight: 9,480 pounds
  • Cruise Speed: 148 knots
  • Range: 350 nautical miles
  • Endurance: three hours


  • 40 percent more power and higher performance from new engines
  • Radar and electro-optical/infrared sensors
  • Capability to conduct sorties from a cutter flight deck
  • 7.62 mm machine gun and a .50-caliber rifle
  • Ongoing common avionics architecture system of digital glass cockpit instruments similar to those installed on the Coast Guard’s upgraded MH-60T medium range recovery helicopter

Discrete Segments

  • Discrete Segment 1: In this segment, which was completed in 2007, helicopter engines were replaced with digitally controlled Turbomeca Arriel 2C2-CG engines, adding 40 percent more power.
  • Discrete Segment 2: The Coast Guard purchased seven new MH-65 aircraft to identify and intercept non-compliant light aircraft operating within the Washington, D.C., Air Defense Identification Zone.
  • Discrete Segment 3: In this segment, adding airborne use of force capability will equip aircraft with a 7.62 mm general-purpose machine gun and a .50-caliber precision rifle to disable engines on non-compliant vessels and provide fire support for Coast Guard boarding teams. After completing this segment, helicopters will be re-designated MH-65C.
  • Discrete Segment 4: Obsolete subsystems will be replaced during this segment, such as replacing navigation systems and gyros with digital GPS and inertial navigation systems. After completing this segment, helicopters will be re-designated MH-65D.
  • Discrete Segment 5: This segment will equip helicopters with a ship handling, securing and traversing system, which is an advanced mechanical interface for recovering, securing and moving aircraft aboard cutters.
  • Discrete Segment 6: Remaining obsolete subsystems will be modernized during this segment, including replacing analog automatic flight control with digital systems, installing digital weather radar systems, and installing digital glass cockpit instruments. After completing this segment, helicopters will be re-designated MH-65E.