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HeliTorque :: View topic - US Coast Guard overhauls Dolphin fleet
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HeliTorque Forum Index » EMS, SAR & Law Enforcement

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US Coast Guard overhauls Dolphin fleet
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 24, 2011 4:34 pm    Post subject: US Coast Guard overhauls Dolphin fleet Reply with quote

US Coast Guard overhauls Dolphin fleet
April 22, 2011

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) is giving its HH/MH-65 fleet a new avionics upgrade, which will pave the way for the aircraft to receive a fully integrated digital cockpit in the future.

The USCG's Aviation Logistics Centre at Elizabeth City, North Carolina, is carrying out the upgrades, turning the HH/MH-65C into an MH-65D during planned depot maintenance, which takes place on each aircraft every four years. The update focuses on adding new digital computer displays, embedded GPS and inertial navigation systems, and other digital avionics components.

Cmdr Michael Campbell, project manager for the H-65 conversion and sustainment project, said the new systems were primarily installed within the avionics compartment in the rear of the aircraft.

‘Their inputs are fed into the existing legacy flight deck displays in the cockpit, so from the operator's perspective the upgrade is not a significant change,' Campbell said.

'However, the digital architecture, or digital framework, provides a building block for the next upgrade, which will re-designate the aircraft to the MH-65E.

'The Echo upgrade will completely modernise the cockpit by integrating the Common Avionics Architecture System, which is similar to the system installed in the coast guard's MH-60T aircraft.'

The 'Delta' upgrade is the third in a series of six upgrades that will re-capitalise the H-65 helicopters first introduced to the coast guard in the mid-1980s. These helicopters operate from USCG air stations ashore and from flight deck-equipped coast guard cutters to fulfil search and rescue, law enforcement and homeland security missions.

The USCG says the 'Echo' upgrade will be a much bigger upgrade, as it will replace the automatic flight control system as well as the entire avionics system.

The upgrades are tentatively scheduled to begin sometime in fiscal year 2014.

The first MH-65Ds went into service at Coast Guard Air Station (CGAS) Atlantic City in January and that station has since taken delivery of its seventh and eighth examples in April.

The USCG's Aviation Training Centre at Mobile will be the next base to take delivery of a Delta aircraft, while Air Station Kodiak in Alaska will receive four MH-65Ds this year to replace its HH-65Cs.

Around 22 helicopters a year are being converted into D models.


Tony Osborne, North Carolina
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