Assistant Commandant for Capability (CG-7)
Office of Aviation Forces (CG-711)
The USCG has been flying HC-130J aircraft since the first aircraft was delivered in 2003 and went into initial operational capability in 2008. There are currently six HC-130J aircraft in the USCG inventory with an additional three on order through the manufacturer. All operational aircraft are based at the air station in Elizabeth City, NC, and operate primarily off the eastern seaboard. The HC-130J aircraft are worldwide deployable and can often be found supporting counter-narcotics operations in the Eastern Pacific, long range Search and Rescue in the Atlantic, or marine safety missions operating International Ice Patrol from Newfoundland, Canada.
The HC-130J aircraft has a unique mission system suite installed on the aircraft. The mission system suite includes a two operator workstation on the flight deck, a nose-mounted EO/IR pod, a belly-mounted surface search radar, as well as other communication and surveillance sensors.
The HC-130J is a major upgrade from the legacy C-130’s employed by the USCG since 1959. The cockpit avionics upgrades, coupled with more efficient engine and propeller designs, allow the aircraft to fly higher, get on scene faster, stay on scene longer and fly safer than any other fixed wing aircraft in the USCG inventory. This allows for significant savings in terms of operational and logistical costs.
The USCG plans to replace all older model HC-130H aircraft with HC-130J aircraft by 2027.
The C-130H is a mainstay of the United States Coast Guard air fleet.
The Coast Guard's fleet currently includes 22 HC-130H, two HC-130H with the Avionics One Upgrade (A1U), and six HC-130J models of the famous Hercules, widely recognized as the West's premier military transport.
The Coast Guard's history with the "Herc" dates to 1958, when it first ordered the R8V-1G (HC-130B) model, (now retired.) The configuration of these aircraft is suitable for a variety of missions.
The four-engine, high-wing aircraft can carry 92 passengers, although the usual number is 44, with 14 web seats and pallets with 15 airline-style seats each. The HC-130H can also carry 51,000 pounds of cargo, rescue, or oil-pollution-control equipment.
Operated by a crew of seven (7), the HC-130H can airdrop life rafts or dewatering pumps, or dispersant for oil pollution control.
A newly acquired maritime patrol aircraft, the Ocean Sentry will fly reconnaissance for Coast Guard lifesaving and interdiction missions, replacing the aging HU-25 fleet.
From The Shield of Freedom, 2006: The HC-144A "Ocean Sentry" is a Maritime Patrol Aircraft produced by the Spanish subsidiary of the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. (EADS). First unveiled in 2006, the CN-235A (official USCG designation HC-144A) is currently being produced and delivered to the Coast Guard.
The aircraft were certified as the all-around Coast Guard choice for its Medium Range Surveillance (MRS) Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) by then Commandant Adm. Thomas Collins, in 2003. They are part of the Deepwater program, an extensive acquisition overhaul that touches the entire Coast Guard fleet of operational forces.
The HC-144A will assume Coast Guard medium range surveillance and transport requirements, replacing the HU-25 and some HC-130s. The Ocean Sentry has the capability to perform aerial delivery of search and rescue equipment such as rafts, pumps, and flares, and it can serve as an on-scene commander platform for homeland security missions, since it is outfitted with the IDS Command and Control (C2) System, and the state-of-the-art C4ISR suite of sensors and avionics. The aircraft will be particularly effective at locating targets in a large search area, and vectoring prosecution assets to the targets.
The HC-144As modern C4ISR suite, modular cabin, miserly fuel consumption rate, and short field takeoff and landing capability make it uniquely suited for USCG missions.
Aviations’ Avionics & Command, Control, Computers, Communications, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) program has been established to support capability development and integration on all aviation platforms, units and for flight operations.
Avionics consists of the electrical and electronic systems used to communicate, navigate, fly the aircraft, monitor aircraft systems, safety & emergency systems, and provide air traffic surveillance. The C4ISR component includes all the electrical and electronic tactical mission systems: sensors, mission processors, communications, displays and interfaces.
The program evaluates emerging avionics and C4ISR technologies supporting aviation program goals. The Avionics and C4ISR program staff meets with government, scholastic and industry experts to review new technology and identify mission appropriate applications. Essential information is provided to senior leadership, including technology briefs, cost-benefit analysis and resource proposals for required capital expenditures. The avionics and C4ISR program coordinates multi-million dollar aircraft modifications and upgrades. These projects include the development of operational requirements and refining technical specifications based on mission parameters, defining overall project scope, outlining objectives and identifying risk, providing technical input for acquisition contracts, and preparing project schedules and milestones. The program supports development of policy for the employment, training and support of all avionics and aviation C4ISR systems and inventory. It also assists in the development of fleet-wide training requirements, reviews proposed curricula, and provides crew manning recommendations.
CG aviation is in the midst of a major avionics and C4ISR technology growth period. Vast leaps in aviation capability are coming from this technology. New life saving SAR technology such as 406Mhz direction finding, Digital Selective Calling receivers, & Radars that can display Search and rescue transponders. Sensors that can find targets in all weather and at night, and mission processors and communications that can share information in a net-centric manner are being developed and employed. The program is focused on planning, developing and implementing systems in a standardized and integrated manner for affordability and increased operational efficiency and effectiveness.
The Coast Guard operates two long-range Gulfstream V as its principal Command and Control transport for travel by the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard Commandant, and other U.S. Officials. On lone flights, the C-37A can carry 12 passengers and a crew of four going Mach .80 at 51,000 feet cruising altitude, all with considerable fuel efficiency. The C-37A enjoys commonality of parts and supplies with more than a dozen C-37As operated by the Department of Defense.