Air Station Traverse City welcomes first of 3 new Jayhawk helicopters

An MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter taxis on the runway at Air Station Traverse City, Michigan, April 13, 2017. Jayhawks are replacing the current helicopters the air station operates to provide improved search and rescue coverage in the area. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Air Station Traverse City)

An MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter taxis on the runway at Air Station Traverse City, Michigan, April 13, 2017. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Air Station Traverse City)

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City will host local government officials and first responders Thursday after receiving the first of three MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters that are due to be permanently transferred to the unit this summer.

The air station is currently transitioning from the current four MH-65 Dolphin helicopters to three Jayhawk helicopters.

The transition to the Jayhawk helicopter provides multiple benefits to the Coast Guard and the Great Lakes region. The Coast Guard has long identified the Jayhawk as the helicopter best suited for responding to urgent missions throughout the expansive Great Lakes region, especially during the harsh winters.

In addition, the Coast Guard will bolster its national counter drug operational capabilities by transferring two Dolphin helicopters from Traverse City to the Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron in Jacksonville, Florida. One of the unit’s current aircraft will be transferred to the Coast Guard Aviation Training Center in Mobile, Alabama, to support a fleet-wide training initiative associated with a modernization effort.

One helicopter has already been transferred to Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City, New Jersey. Another from that unit will support operations at the Coast Guard Air Facility in Waukegan, Illinois, throughout the summer of 2017.

Coast Guard helicopters assigned to Air Station Traverse City will remain capable of arriving on scene well within the time limits established through decades of perfecting search and rescue expertise. In fact, response times will be improved in some cases as a result of the transition.

These carefully researched changes to the distribution of aviation assets ensures air stations will be properly staffed, equipped, and poised to maintain a resilient network of Coast Guard assets ready for both search and rescue and counter-drug operations. These transitions are a vital part of the fight against illegal drug trade and the negative impacts it has on communities nationwide.

While the event is not open to the public, they will most likely see more of the Jayhawk this summer as two more aircraft arrive during the coming months and the air station begins shifting entirely to the Jayhawk. The new aircrews will assume full operations between July 30, and August 15. The remaining aircraft will suspend operations in Traverse City no later than September 30, 2017.

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