US Coast Guard photo, by PAC Dana Warr
The Acquisitions Directorate (CG-9) is reporting award of a contract to Airbus for components for a Service Life Extension Program for CG MH-65s. I have reproduced the press release in full below. Significantly it indicates the H-65s will continue to serve until phased out between 2035 and 2039. We are also SLEPing the H-60s so their replacement and that of the H-65 may both come due about the same time. In the 2030s we will have an entire fleet of 50 year old helicopters. This could create a huge budgeting problem in the mid 2030s.. At least it appears the “Future Vertical Lift” program should be mature by then.
The Coast Guard awarded a $15.9 million contract to Airbus Helicopters Inc. Aug. 22 to procure three critical structural components for its H-65 short range recovery helicopters as part of a Service Life Extension Program (SLEP).
The sole source contract includes the following commercial items; the canopy, center console floor assembly and the lower right nine degree frame. The Coast Guard elected to order 87 canopies in the base period, which resulted in a $2.5 million cost savings to the government. Under the contract, canopy deliveries will be spread out over a five-year performance period.
The SLEP will replace five critical components that are essential to the airworthiness and flight safety of the aircraft. Contracts for the other two components, the floor boards and side panel, were awarded in May.
The SLEP will extend the service life of the H-65 from 20,000 to 30,000 flight hours. The 10,000-flight-hour extension will provide a 50% increase in service life and will ensure that the Coast Guard can maintain its H-65 fleet until its planned phase-out between 2035 and 2039.
The MH-65 is also undergoing an avionics upgrades that will convert the airframe to an MH-65E configuration. In order to achieve schedule and cost efficiencies, the avionics upgrades and SLEP are being completed at the same time. One low rate initial production aircraft, CGNR-6556, is currently undergoing SLEP and the avionics upgrades; work is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018.
For more information: MH-65 program page