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Air Station Corpus Christi received CGNR 6563, the first of three MH-65Es slated for the station, on Jan. 6, 2024. This is the 77th of 98 total conversions including avionic upgrades and Service Life Extension work planned by the Coast Guard for the Dolphin fleet.

Air Station Detroit completed its transition to MH-65E models when it received its fifth and final upgraded Dolphin, CGNR 6527, on Dec. 4, 2023. With this delivery, 76 of 98 MH-65 aircraft have undergone Service Life Extension work and avionics upgrades, converting them to the “Echo” configuration.

Coast Guard Air Station Detroit received its third upgraded MH-65E with the delivery of CGNR 6543 on Oct. 31, 2023. This is the 74th out of 98 total conversions including avionics upgrades and Service Life Extension work planned by the Coast Guard for the Dolphin fleet.

MH-65E transition

Air stations that have completed the transition and number of aircraft:

Houston 3
Miami 5
Port Angeles, WA 3
Barbers Point, HI 4
North Bend, OR 5
Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron 12
Humboldt Bay, CA 3
San Francisco 7
Savannah, GA 5
National Capital Region Air Defense 2
Atlantic City, NJ 10
Aviation Training Center Mobile, AL 7
Detroit 5
Corpus Christi, TX 3

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

MH-65 Short Range Recovery Helicopter


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 2 inches
  • 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, added airborne use of force capability equipped 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 were re-designated MH-65C.
  • Discrete Segment 4: Obsolete subsystems were replaced during this segment, such as replacing navigation systems and gyros with digital GPS and inertial navigation systems. After completing this segment, helicopters were re-designated MH-65D.
  • 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


Jan. 25, 2024 - Air Station Detroit transitions to updated MH-65E helicopter; new avionics package boosts mission capability


Nov. 29, 2023 - Coast Guard MH-65 technical training receives major upgrade

Nov. 16, 2023 - Air Station Atlantic City completes transition to MH-65E

May 10, 2023 - National Capital Region Air Defense unit assumes duties with upgraded MH-65E

March 30, 2023 - Air Station Savannah plays key role in airspace security during SpaceX launches

March 10, 2023 - Coast Guard orders components for upgraded MH-65E helicopter

March 1, 2023 - MH-65 upgrades continue to prove worth during California flooding


Nov. 22, 2022 - MH-65 upgrades were invaluable to mission success in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian

Sept. 30, 2022 - Coast Guard aircrews putting MH-65E new capabilities to good use

May 27, 2022 - Coast Guard delivers upgraded MH-65E helicopters to Sector Humboldt Bay

April 26, 2022 - MH-65 program delivers upgraded helicopters to HITRON


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