WASHINGTON – Coast Guard officials formally accepted the first Mission Systems Pallet (MSP) for the HC-144A “Ocean Sentry” Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) on March 10, 2008. Monday’s acceptance followed successful completion of Developmental Test and Evaluation (DT&E) of the MSP and represents a significant milestone in the project to acquire these all new aviation assets.
Slated to replace the Service’s aging fleet of HU-25 Falcon fan jets, the HC-144A, a derivative of the EADS/CASA CN-235-300, significantly enhances the mission capabilities of Coast Guard aircrews. This fixed-wing turbo prop aircraft provides invaluable on-scene loitering capabilities and perform various missions, including maritime patrol, law enforcement, Search and Rescue (SAR), disaster response, and cargo & personnel transport. The Mission System Pallet is a roll-on, roll-off suite of electronic equipment that enables the aircrew to compile data from the aircraft’s multiple integrated sensors and transmit and receive both classified “Secret”-level and unclassified information to other assets, including surface vessels, other aircraft, local law enforcement and shore facilities. With multiple voice and data communications capabilities, including UHF/VHF, HF, and Commercial Satellite Communications (SATCOM), the HC-144A will be able to contribute to a Common Tactical Picture (CTP) and Common Operating Picture (COP) through a networked Command and Control (C2) system that provides for data sharing via SATCOM. The aircraft is also equipped with a vessel Automatic Identification System, direction finding equipment, a surface search radar, an Electro-Optical/ Infra-Red system, and Electronic Surveillance Measures equipment to improve situational awareness and responsiveness.
“We are extremely pleased to have completed this monumental milestone in the introduction of the HC-144A aircraft to the Coast Guard,” remarked Captain Matthew Sisson, Coast Guard Aviation Acquisition Program Manager. “We appreciate all of the hard work and dedication of those responsible for this achievement. Being the first Coast Guard Deepwater aviation asset to obtain certification of the onboard classified network, the HC-144A has paved the way for future Coast Guard assets that pursue similar certifications.”
With the successful onboard classified network certification of the HC-144A, the Coast Guard now has experience that can be leveraged into solutions for network issues on other assets such as the National Security Cutter.
The fully mission capable HC-144A aircraft will now begin a formal Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E) period prior to entering operational service in 2009. Eight HC-144A aircraft and three MSPs are currently on contract with Integrated Coast Guard Systems (ICGS). Current plans call for a fleet of 36 mission capable HC-144As by 2020.