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Video: Coast Guard pilots discuss conversion from MH-65D to MH-65E helicopter platform.

CGNR 6528 was delivered to the Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron Sept. 9, 2021. CGNR 6528 is the 28th of 98 MH-65 aircraft to undergo Service Life Extension work and avionics upgrades to convert it to the “Echo” configuration.

The Coast Guard’s 27th MH-65E was delivered to Air Station Barbers Point, Hawaii, Sept. 12, 2021. Five Coast Guard facilities have fully transitioned to the upgraded aircraft.

The Coast Guard’s 25th MH-65E was delivered to Air Station Miami July 12, 2021. Four Coast Guard air stations have fully transitioned to the upgraded MH-65E, and a fifth air station is scheduled to transition later this year.


MH-65 Short Range Recovery Helicopter


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 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. The Coast Guard is upgrading the helicopters with state-of-the-market enhancements that will extend mission capabilities and improve their reliability and maintainability. This 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% more power and airborne use of force capabilities, redesignating the aircraft MH-65s. Additionally, the Coast Guard is executing a Service Life Extension Project (SLEP) to extend the service life the H-65 Dolphin by 10,000 flights hours.

How are the upgrades implemented?

The MH-65 conversion and sustainment project is being accomplished in 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 current phase of the upgrades is complete, the aircraft will be redesignated as MH-65Es. A separate discrete segment was added for the SLEP work.




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 routinely deploys aboard certified cutters providing critical manned airborne surveillance and interdiction capabilities.


  • 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% 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% 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.
  • Discrete Segment 8: This SLEP work will extend the service life of the H-65 from 20,000 to 30,000 flight hours by replacing five of the H-65’s major structural components: the nine degree frame, canopy, center console floor assembly, floor boards and side panels. While this phase does not introduce any new capabilities to the H-65 airframe, the upgrades of these structural components will enable fleet operations until the planned phase out in fiscal years 2035-2039. Based on current programmed usage, the 10,000 flight hour extension per aircraft will provide a 50% increase in service life, or approximately 16 years.


SRR: In the News


Sept. 15, 2021 - MH-65 program delivers upgraded helicopters to Air Station Barbers Point

July 20, 2021 - MH-65 program delivers upgraded MH-65E helicopters to Air Station Miami

July 8, 2021 - MH-65 program delivers upgraded MH-65E helicopters to Sector North Bend

Feb. 9, 2021 - MH-65 program delivers upgraded MH-65E helicopter to Air Station Barbers Point

Jan. 7, 2021 - Coast Guard MH-65 program delivers four upgraded Dolphin helicopters


Nov. 6, 2020 - Coast Guard MH-65 program delivers upgraded Dolphin helicopters

April 29, 2020 - Coast Guard marks progress in H-65 conversion efforts

Jan. 16, 2020 - Coast Guard MH-65 program moves into full rate production


March 29, 2019 - Coast Guard awards contract for MH-65 helicopter components

Feb. 12, 2019 - Coast Guard MH-65E program completes low rate initial production, begins initial operational test and evaluation


Sept. 14, 2018 - Coast Guard awards contract for H-65 helicopter components


Oct. 17, 2017 - Coast Guard delivers FEMA food, water to Arecibo Observatory

Oct. 16, 2017 - Coast Guard delivers FEMA food, water to Jayuya, Puerto Rico

Oct. 12, 2017 - Coast Guard aircrew delivers FEMA aid to Aguada, Puerto Rico

Oct. 10, 2017 - Coast Guard responds to Hurricane Nate

March 28, 2017 - Acquisition update: Counterdrug MH-65 unit marks 500th drug interdiction

Feb. 6, 2017 - Coast Guard awards automatic flight control system component contract

Jan. 30, 2017 - Acquisition update: Second MH-65E transfers to training center for curriculum development


Aug. 18, 2016 - Acquisition Update: Coast Guard H-65 Engineer Wins DHS Award

Jan. 14, 2016 - Coast Guard Completes Latest Phase Of Dolphin Helicopter Upgrades


Oct. 29, 2015 - Acquisition Update: Coast Guard Tests Newest Version Of MH-65 Helicopter

May 26, 2015 - Acquisition Update: Coast Guard Outfits Final Air Station With Upgraded Recovery Helicopters


Jan. 24, 2013 - Recapitalized Assets Help Coast Guard Respond to Hurricane Sandy