“Coast Guard MH-65 program moves into full rate production” –CG-9

This from the Acquisitions Directorate (CG-9):

Coast Guard MH-65 program moves into full rate production

H65

The Coast Guard MH-65 short range recovery helicopter program began full rate production of the MH-65E configuration in November 2019. CGNR 6522 was the first MH-65 to enter the composite shop phase in the program depot maintenance overhaul. U.S. Coast Guard photo.


The Coast Guard MH-65 short range recovery helicopter program began full rate production of the MH-65E configuration Nov. 21, 2019, with the transfer of CGNR 6522 to the Aviation Logistics Center (ALC) in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Two additional aircraft – CGNR 6514 and CGNR 6593– were transferred to the ALC production line in December 2019 and one – CGNR 6507 – was transferred in January 2020. The program is executing concurrent Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) work and avionics upgrades for the MH-65E conversion on the entire fleet.

Full rate production means that the ALC will transition to producing MH-65Es at a rate of 22 aircraft per year.

The avionics upgrades include reliability and capability improvements for the Automatic Flight Control System; installation of a digital cockpit display system and an upgraded digital weather/surface search radar; integration of a robust command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance suite; and modernization of the digital flight deck with Common Avionics Architecture System, common with the Coast Guard H-60 medium range recovery helicopter and similar Department of Defense aircraft. Once the upgrades are complete, the helicopter is redesignated an MH-65E.

At the same time, the Coast Guard is completing SLEP activities to replace five major structure components: the nine-degree frame, canopy, center console floor assembly, floorboards and side panels. These mission-critical improvements are designed to extend the service life of the helicopter by 10,000 flight hours.

The avionics upgrades and SLEP are being completed at the same time to achieve schedule and cost efficiencies.

The Coast Guard plans to convert all 98 aircraft to the MH-65E configuration by fiscal year 2024.

For more information: MH-65 program page

16 thoughts on ““Coast Guard MH-65 program moves into full rate production” –CG-9

  1. I wonder, how long can we keep the MH-65 flying because sooner or later we are gona have to consider options in replacing the MH-65 with something that the USAF is using such as the MH-139.

      • The Coast Guard has not published any plans beyond five years. They will probably be bought as an add on to DOD contracts as most of our C-130s have been.

      • I have my doubts the Army led future helicopter program will result in a suitable marine utility helicopter to replace the H60. Seems the Army is institutionally invested in getting their own tiltroter, and while potentially brilliant the Bell offering seems physically too big. But that being said I see more potential in an H65 replacement assuming the Marines can modify the future recon attack helicopter into an H1 replacement. But that development is still vaporware as the Army recon version doesn’t have any troop carrying requirements. Budget battles might result in the H1 replacement being pushed far back. At which case maybe the Coast Guard follows the French led and buys the H65 direct descendant in the H160.

  2. on my last ship on one patrol they were broke more then flying. never would have been tolerated in the engineering spaces.

  3. The Two prototypes you usually see are H-60 replacement sized but the Army is accelerating their smaller helicopter replacement program and it will probably be the first produced. Some info on the competitors here. https://breakingdefense.com/2019/10/raider-x-sikorsky-supersizes-s-97-for-army-scout/

    If future vertical lift works as advertised, it will make conventional helicopters obsolete, and may allow the Coast Guard to combine the search and recovery missions into a single airframe. Longer range and higher speeds may allow a reduction in the number of air stations.

    • Chuck, your comment about the possibility of closing certain air stations reminded me of the 2017 GAO report recommending that the Coast Guard take actions to shut down certain air stations that were deemed to be “unnecessarily duplicative.” If my memory serves me right, when the Coast Guard tried to shutter boat or air stations, the politicians of the areas affected were *quite* vociferous against the shuttering of the stations.

      https://www.gao.gov/assets/690/687952.pdf

      Even if the new aircraft platform theoretically allowed for the shuttering of nearby air stations, I’m sure the Commandant has little motivation to tick of key members of Congress 🙂

      • @Dave Van Dyk, Certainly people generally oppose closures, but what they really object to is slower response.

        Probably true that few air stations would close. More likely we might need fewer air frames since the same aircraft could do medium range search and recovery.

        Where we have two air stations that support different kinds of aircraft like CGAS Sacramento, a fixed wing air station, and CGAS San Francisco, a rotary wing base, some consolidation might be possible.

    • To be fair, I have always been slightly confused with the setup between CGAS Sacramento and CGAS San Francisco. It might be somewhat cumbersome to fold one into the other at this point, but I feel it’d be much easier to have the air assets all in one place. There’s other places where that might also be possible (Eighth District, Thirteenth District)…but I just remembered the push-back the CG got when it tried to do that stuff previously.

      • Might be that fixed wings would encounter significant delays in taking off from San Francisco, while Sacramento probably has far fewer delays.

  4. Originally certified for 20,000 hrs, the MH-65 is undergoing concurrent SLEP to add 10,000 additional flight hours while upgrading the flight deck from a “DELTA” to an “ECHO.” The MH-60 will also receive a 10,000 SLEP. Once the 60 and 65 self park themselves in the mid 2030’s, the days of multiple VL airframes will be over. Requirements are being written for a singular airframe and a decision regarding weather a DoD FVL derivative or a COTS H-60 equivalent has not been made. FYI: tilt rotors will not fit in a CGC hangar and the down wash is to much for the victim and rescue swimmer to endure. FYI: USCG VL will orbit Navy requirements, not Army requirements.

    • “FYI: tilt rotors will not fit in a CGC hangar and the down wash is to much for the victim and rescue swimmer to endure.”

      Exactly. Whatever the future airframe ends up being, it’s going to have to fit CG requirements one way or the other, which likely means whatever the Navy goes for (unless CG goes for something already on the market, like the H155). But anything that looks like a V-22 likely isn’t going to cut it.

    • While the Army is primary manager, all the services are involved. The Sikorsky version does look like it would be better for shipboard operations, but it would also need blade folding to fit in our hangars. A tilt rotor could fit in our shipboard hangars if like the MV-22s the wing pivoted and the rotors folded. The downwash, which is bad on a V-22, might not be so bad, if the aircraft were lighter and disk loading was comparable to a helicopter. Unlike the V-22 these new tilt rotors do not point their engine exhaust down.

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