Assistant Commandant for Capability (CG-7)
Rotary-Wing & Special Missions (CG-7112)
The mainstay of the Coast Guard's rotary wing fleet, the Dolphin has been with the Coast Guard since the early 1980s. It conducts all the bread-and-butter Coast Guard helicopter operations: SAR, port patrol, maritime investigation and interdiction.
The H-65 helicopter — the Coast Guard’s most ubiquitous aircraft — is certified for operation in all-weather and night-time operations, with the exception of icing conditions. There are 100 H-65s in the inventory. The H-65 is the primary Coast Guard aircraft used aboard certified cutters during deployments. FLIR, a heads-up display (HUD) and other avionics upgrades are being installed aboard the H-65 as part of the ongoing conversion-sustainment initiative to sustain the airframe for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, the re-designation of Airborne Use of Force (AUF) MH-65Cs reflects the installation of armament and a significantly upgraded communications package. Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) Jacksonville was the first operational Coast Guard unit to employ the MH-65C and has a total of 10 aircraft assigned to replace the MH-68A Stingray aircraft. The current transition to the MH-65D is designed to address obsolete component issues and is slated to be complete by summer of 2015. In FY17 the Coast Guard will introduce the MH-65E to the fleet. Currently under development, the MH-65E will feature an all-glass cockpit with advanced navigation capabilities to meet emerging FAA requirements.
The MH-60T is a derivative of the Army's Blackhawk based on the Navy's SH-60F airframe. Initially incorporated into the Coast Guard in 1990, the MH-60T is a workhorse for SAR missions, routine patrols and Homeland Security.
The MH-60 is an all weather, medium-range helicopter (specialized for search and recovery) similar to the Navy MH-60R and MH-60S Seahawk, with its basic roots in the Army H-60 Blackhawk. The service began to operate the MH-60J in 1990 as a replacement to the now-retired HH-3F Pelican, and it is typically operated by a crew of four. The last unit operating the MH-60J is CGAS Clearwater. They are currently completing the MH-60J to MH-60T transition which will be completed in May 2013.
There are 42 total MH-60s in the Coast Guard air fleet, with 35 in operational use, most of which have undergone the MH-60T conversion since 2008. Seven H-60s are at various levels of depot maintenance and MH-60T upgrade at the Aviation Logistics Center in Elizabeth City, NC. The MH-60T upgrade consist of a Rockwell Collins Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS). CAAS is an integrated "glass" cockpit which provides updated avionics and integrated Electro-optical Sensor System with recording capability via a removable memory module. CAAS also replaces legacy radios with the AN/ARC 210, ARC 220 and the RT-5000/SAR radios.
The MH-60 is located at seven Coast Guard and ATC Mobile Air Stations, equipped with sensors and equipment for search and rescue missions. Four H-60 units Maintain Airborne Use of Force (AUF) and all of the MH-60s are AUF equipped.
Also referred to as remotely-piloted vehicles, Unmanned Air Systems will become a key component of the Coast Guard's C4ISR connectivity and mission's capabilities.
Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), a central Coast Guard operational concept, refers to the effective understanding of anything associated with the maritime domain that could impact the security, safety, economy, or environment of the United States.
Cutter- and land-based Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs) will contribute to MDA by providing persistent, wide area surveillance, detection, classification, and identification functions. To accomplish this, UAS payloads will typically include maritime radar, electro-optical and infrared cameras, and an automatic identification system (AIS) receiver, at a minimum.
Cutter-based UAS is intended to serve as tactical, on-demand capability aboard the NSC and OPC fleets. As an integral component of the cutter's force package, UAS greatly extends the cutter's surveillance horizon beyond that provided by shipboard sensors and embarked manned aircraft. During 2012 and 2013, the Coast Guard successfully demonstrated small UAS (sUAS) capabilities aboard CGC STRATTON and CGC BERTHOLF as an initial step for the NSC fleet. In August 2013, the Coast Guard initiated its non-major acquisition of sUAS for the NSC fleet, and is preparing to procure its first cutter-based systems in FY16/17.
Additionally, specialized Coast Guard aviation personnel are jointly operating the MQ-9 Guardian, a variant of the Predator-B, with Customs and Border Protection (CBP). This strategic, land-based UAS enables both agencies to conduct wide area surveillance comparable to that of Coast Guard and joint service maritime patrol aircraft. This groundbreaking capability is employed on a daily basis in and near U.S. territorial waters, as well as forward deployed locations in the source and transit zone, via beyond line-of-sight (BLOS) connectivity.
In 2009, the Coast Guard established a UAS Standardization Branch at ATC Mobile, an operational UAS cadre at CGAS Corpus Christi, and several program-level billets at headquarters to support these groundbreaking endeavors. These personnel, along with their U.S. Navy and CBP counterparts, continue to develop this critical skill set and refine tactics, techniques, procedures, and regulations in support of future UAS fielding within the Service.
A blanket program to cover all non-standard and special use aviation missions and activities. Currently synonymous with the Aviation Use of Force or Armed Helicopter initiatives.
The Aviation Special Missions (ASM) Program coordinates allocation and policy for special aviation capabilities required to fulfill mission requirements for Coast Guard operations. These capabilities (current or envisioned) include Airborne Use of Force (AUF), Rotary Wing Air Intercept (RWAI), Vertical Insertion (VI), and tools to counter Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosive Environments (CBRNE).
Aviation Special Mission capabilities are distributed throughout a variety of Coast Guard Aviation platforms and units.
The Rescue Swimmer program manager oversees the Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer operational program.
Comprised of enlisted men and women from the Aviation Survival Technician “AST” rating, RS’s complete the initial 18-week training course at Aviation Technical Training Center in Elizabeth City, NC. The school’s primary responsibility is to ensure that graduating RS’s have the flexibility, strength, endurance, and equipment knowledge to function for 30 minutes in heavy seas. Upon graduation RS’s are required to complete Coast Guard EMT School located at Technical Training Center Petaluma, CA and successfully pass the National Registry EMT exam enabling them to provide basic pre-hospital life support for the rescued individual(s).
The primary mission of the helicopter RS is to provide Rotary Wing stations with the capability of deploying a properly trained and conditioned person to assist persons in distress in the maritime environment. RS’s are essential aircrew and required by CG policy to be stationed at all helicopter units with Search and Rescue capabilities.
Advanced rescue training is completed at Advanced Helicopter Rescue School (AHRS) in Astoria, OR. AHRS is a 5-day course, convening 10-weeks annually, with a primary focus utilizing advanced procedures and techniques for completing rescues in high seas, vertical surfaces (cliffs), and cave rescue. AHRS is staffed by the Aviation Training Center (ATC) Mobile RS Training Branch. Class participants consists of qualified pilots, flight mechanics, and RS’s stationed at various units across the fleet.
Management of the CG Helicopter RS Program is the responsibility of the CG Office of Aviation Operations, CG-7112, RS Program Manager. Duties of the RS Program Manger include but are not limited to: