“Coast Guard Grounds Some Search-and-Rescue Helicopters As It Struggles to Find Spare Parts” –Military.Com

US Coast Guard photo, by PAC Dana Warr

Military.Com reports that,

“The Coast Guard’s short-range search-and-rescue helicopters are flying at 70% of their potential scheduled hours due to a parts shortage, a situation that could worsen as hurricane season approaches, the service’s top officer told Congress on Wednesday.

“Six Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopters are currently grounded, with four more expected to be out of circulation by June. That’s roughly 10% of the fleet, Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz told the House Appropriations Committee’s homeland security subcommittee April 28.”

The H-65s entered service with the Coast Guard 36 years ago. The Coast Guard is concurrently conducting both service life extension and electronic upgrades on the entire H-65 fleet. I had heard that a couple of airstations would transition from H-65s to H-60s, and that we would begin flying H-60s from cutters, but I was very surprised to see this,

“Schultz said the service must “take immediate action” to transition its entire rotary wing force over to MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters.”

While moving from H-65s to H-60s is something of an upgrade, a complete transition from H-65s to H-60s will be challenging and operating H-60s from 210s may be impossible.

There lots of Airbus 365 derived helicopters out there. Over a 1000 were sold to over 60 different customers. They are used by militaries and civilians all over the world. In 2015 it was announced that Korean Aerospace Industries would begin building new version with an upgraded gearbox. That program apparently resulted in their Light Civil Helicopter and Light Armed Helicopter.

I find it hard to believe we cannot find a source for replacement parts.

Thanks to Walter for bringing this to my attention.

10 thoughts on ““Coast Guard Grounds Some Search-and-Rescue Helicopters As It Struggles to Find Spare Parts” –Military.Com

    • Well, they are replacing some with H-60s which are just about as old as the H-65s but much more common in the US military. We are almost certainly going to have the H65s for several more years.

      • With the transition to H-60s, there should be enough spare parts available through cannibalization of the remaining airframes, but I agree with you that there should be available spares available worldwide.

        That said, a replacement of the H-65s is needed. The Dolphin was a great, fast airframe, loved throughout the world, though somewhat limited in terms of internal capacity. There are options out there, from the Eurocopter Panther 565 to the Leonardo MH-139, which won the USAF contract to replace their UN-1Ns.

      • @ DaSaint
        The MH-139 fuselage is around 15 feet longer than a MH-65, and 4 feet longer that a Blackhawk. And it doesn’t have a folding tail. It’s not likely to fit in any shipboard hanger.
        Honestly, while I would imagine the cessation of production would effect availability of airframe parts I think that the gearbox shortage and powertrain type parts is probably more likely more a combined result of the model production ending and reduced vendor production capability due to the pandemic

      • Replacing some H-65s with H-60s should allow the rest of the H65 fleet to continue to serve for some time. We have gotten some used H-60 airframes from DOD. I don’t think we want to replace the entire H-65 fleet with similar existing platforms because the future vertical lift program looks like it will offer revolutionary capability (twice the speed and twice the range) in the not too distant future.

    • The HH-65 fleet has already been replaced a few times in its 30+ year career.
      Each airframe has been back to Air Station Elizabeth City and completely stripped down to its frame and entirely rebuilt (of course recycling as much as possible).
      Each time, it has received upgraded engines, gearboxes, complete glass cockpit upgrades, etc.
      You would be amazed to see what they do to an HH-65 in completely rebuilding them. They come out as practically new aircraft – they even have that new helo smell!
      To expand on the above, I believe the CG originally bought 99 of them. Guess how many the CG still has – 98 or 99 of them.
      Even the aircraft that have been lost due to a Class-A mishap have been pulled from the ocean and completely rebuilt. I believe the CG bought a couple of retired French Dauphin’s just to ensure they had some spare parts.
      But to your point, the USCG has replaced the HH-65 many times in its career!

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