“Coast Guard delivers 14th Minotaur-missionized HC-144 to fleet” –CG-9

New Minotaur operator workstations are being installed on all HC-144Bs. Minotaur provides dramatically improved data fusion and integrates installed sensors and radar. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Aviation Engineering Warrant Officer 3 Randy Jopp.

Below is a story from the Acquisitions Directorate (CG-9). 14 of 18 HC-144s have been missionized with Minotaur. The statement, “The aircraft will be based at Air Station Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the first of three to be stationed there” refers only to the “B” model with Minotaur. Three HC-144As were already there and are being replaced by the upgraded aircraft.

The Coast Guard completed work on its 14th HC-144B Ocean Sentry medium range surveillance aircraft outfitted with both the Ocean Sentry Refresh (OSR) modifications and the Minotaur mission system Jan. 17. Modifications to CGNR 2318 were completed at the Aviation Logistics Center in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. The aircraft will be based at Air Station Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the first of three to be stationed there.

The OSR project upgrades the aircraft with a new flight management system, which manages communication control, navigation and equipment monitoring. After the OSR upgrade is completed, each aircraft is redesignated as an HC-144B.

Minotaur integrates installed sensors and radar and provides dramatically improved data fusion as well as information processing and sharing capabilities.

Completion of missionization and upgrade of a 15th HC-144 is scheduled for later this year. Air Station Miami completed transition to the upgraded aircraft in 2022 and Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, transitioned in 2019. The service plans to upgrade each of the service’s 18 HC-144s by the end of 2024, with transition of Air Station Cape Cod and Aviation Training Center Mobile, Alabama.

For more information: Medium Range Surveillance Program page and Minotaur Program page

“U.S. Coast Guard leverages aviation workhorse to overcome challenges in cutter logistics in Oceania” –Forces Micronesia / Sector Guam

The crew USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) visit Ulithi Atoll on Oct. 31, 2022, the first time a fast response cutter visited the atoll and delivered 20 boxes of supplies, 50 personal floatation devices, and sporting equipment donated by the cutter crew, the extended U.S. Coast Guard Guam family, Ulithi Falalop Community Action Program, Guam Island Girl Power Foundation, and Ayuda Foundation. Ulithi was a central U.S. staging area during World War II, and home to a U.S. Coast Guard Loran-C communications station from 1944 to 1965 before operations relocated to Yap and ultimately shuttered in 1987. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Zena Suzuki)

Below is a press release that highlights some changes in the way the Coast Guard is operating in the Western Pacific, the employment of Webber class Fast Response Cutters for long periods at great distances from homeport and the much greater reach of the J model C-130s.  

Feature Story

U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia / Sector Guam

U.S. Coast Guard leverages aviation workhorse to overcome challenges in cutter logistics in Oceania

Group photo CGAS Barbers Point and CGFMSG EO FN200 offload from HC-130 Technical installs FN200 bottle  Frederick Hatch departs Guam for patrol

Editor’s Note: Click on the images above to view more or download high-resolution versions.

SANTA RITA, Guam — Guam is home to three 154-foot fast response cutters commissioned in 2021. These ships are built in Lockport, Louisiana. After initial workups, they sailed from Key West through the Panama Canal, more than 10,000 miles to Guam. In the time since the crews have stayed busy conducting the U.S. Coast Guard’s core missions in Micronesia and supporting our Blue Pacific partners.

The Operations Area

For many of the Nation’s fast response cutters, the transit to homeport from Key West is one of the most extended trips they make. Those stateside remain close to most essential services needed to maintain the vessels, designed to operate within 200 nautical miles of homeport. In the case of the Guam-based fleet, they routinely go more than 200 nautical miles to get to the operations area. U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam has one of the largest areas of responsibility of any sector at 1.9 million square miles. Like its other overseas counterparts, the region can be austere and presents unique challenges.

U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam (CGFM/SG) differs. The USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) undertook a more than 6,000-mile expeditionary patrol south through Oceania with inaugural FRC port calls in Papua New Guinea and Australia. Their sister ship, the USCGC Frederick Hatch (WPC 1143), just concluded a similar patrol in support of Operations Rematau and Blue Pacific, the southeast of Guam. The patrol countered illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing off the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Nauru by enforcing regulatory schemes and individual countries’ sovereignty while strengthening partnerships through shiprider operations, subject matter exchanges, and community engagements.

“What often goes unsaid is the logistics piece enabling the operations,” said Chief Warrant Officer Manny Pangelinan, engineering officer for CGFM/SG. The Oliver Henry required a last-minute shipment of fuel injectors while underway, a package coordinated by the CGFM/SG logistics department with some support from the Surface Force Logistics Center in Baltimore. The package was shipped via a commercial carrier and met them in Australia.

But more oversized items and hazardous materials can present a more complex challenge. Guam is a strategic location, and as a U.S. territory, it is the first line of defense against regional competitors. Logistically, it is remote and depends on maritime cargo for most items. Nearly 90 percent of imports come through the Port of Guam, and travel by sea varies in cost and takes time. Commercial air freight requires less time but can be very expensive.

The Logistics Challenge

Each FRC has four bottles of compressed gas onboard as part of the fire suppression system. The current design of the FRCs uses FN200 powder and nitrogen gas. Over time these bottles lose nitrogen and need to be recharged, the same as any fire extinguisher. If an extinguisher or system loses its prime, it may malfunction and not adequately suppress a fire. Stateside servicing this equipment is a simple endeavor, but service providers in Guam still need to be created. To further complicate matters, if a local provider converted existing equipment to service this system, it could only be used on FN200 to prevent cross-contamination. The U.S. Coast Guard is currently the only FN200 client on the island.

As the Frederick Hatch prepared for their patrol, the crew noted one of the four bottles was borderline between yellow and red on its pressure. No one wants to be over a thousand miles from shore, with a fire, and risk a system malfunction. But how do you get a 277-pound replacement bottle, considered a hazardous material, shipped from the mainland United States to the territory of Guam? And how do you do it in time to meet the ship’s schedule and enable the crew to fulfill their mission requirements in Micronesia? You keep it in-house and leverage the naval aviation community.

Coast Guard Aviation in Oceania

U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point in Hawaii conducts search and rescue, maritime domain awareness and surveillance, law enforcement, and cargo and transportation operations throughout Oceania. They are currently the only U.S. Coast Guard air station in the U.S. Coast Guard 14th District, with the next closest aviation unit in California. Still, from 1947 until 1972, they operated an air detachment in Guam known as Naval Air Station Agana to provide LORAN support for Western Pacific stations.

Today, the Barbers Point team operates four MH-65 Dolphin helicopters and four HC-130 Hercules airplanes. The Hercules airframes were recently upgraded from the H model to the J model. For Guam, this is significant. The J is more capable as a long-range surveillance aircraft providing heavy air transport and long-range maritime patrol capability. Each plane can serve as an on-scene command and control platform or as a surveillance platform with the means to detect, classify, and identify objects and share that information with operational forces. It also has “long legs.” Where the H crews needed to stop for fuel en route to Guam from Hawaii, the J could make the trip in one leg if necessary. This advantage matters when time is of the essence, particularly in search and rescue cases.

Capt. John Rivers, CGAS Barbers Point commanding officer, recently visited Guam. He met with the CGFM/SG team to discuss options for more aviation support to Western and Central Pacific operations. Those ideas include more hours of Hercules activity in this region and possible use of the Dolphin helicopters outside Hawaii.

The Workhorse

Regarding transporting equipment, the aircrew, particularly the loadmaster, has the final say on what goes aboard the plane. The Barbers Point team and the loadmaster were crucial to keeping the Frederick Hatch on schedule.

The team flew the HC-130 Hercules CG 2009 to Sacramento to pick up the shipment of fire bottles, then returned to Hawaii to rest and refuel. Subsequently, they flew to Majuro and landed in Guam on Nov. 9 at the A.B. Won Pat Guam International Airport. The CGFM/SG engineering team and environmental contractors met them to further transport the bottles to the pier.

All told, the movement cost flight hours and personnel time – but that is the nature of logistics. Per Commandant Instruction 7310.1V Reimbursable Standard Rates, the inside government rate for an HC-130J is $19,782 per hour. This includes Direct Costs like labor, employee benefits, fuel, maintenance, etc.; Support Costs: Costs allocated to a particular asset class for the support received from Coast Guard support activities, including but not limited to Area Commands, Districts, Sectors, Sector Field Offices, Bases, etc.; and General and Administrative: Costs allocated to a particular asset class to represent benefit received from Coast Guard general and administrative activities such as legal services, payroll processing, etc.

However, our aircrews make the most out of every flight, coupling logistics with other missions and training whenever possible. Flight crews must also fly a certain number of monthly hours to maintain currency and proficiency.

The personnel hours, in this case, include the coordination and research by the CGFM/SG Engineering Team to enable the technician from the fire services company to come out, install and certify the new bottle. The team kept the cost down by more than $16,000 by flying out one technician instead of two and doing all the manual labor of removing and replacing the existing bottle with the ship’s force. Transporting a 277-pound bottle across the pier, onto the cutter, and into the space with a tripod and chain fall in 90-degree heat with 90 percent humidity is quite an undertaking. According to Reimbursable Standard Rates, the inside government cost of a CWO2 is $79 per hour, a Chief Petty Officer is $71, and a Petty Officer 2nd Class is $55. Still, these personnel, like the aircrew, are salaried. The figures come into play if the Service seeks reimbursement from another branch or outside entity for services. The outside government rate is higher.

One might ask how to avoid this challenge in the future, as this won’t be the last time these bottles need to be recharged. One possible alternative was building a facility to support the maintenance of these systems in Guam to the tune of more than a million dollars. Ultimately, this option was deemed unrealistic. Instead of a new facility, the engineering team procured a larger bottle of FN200 and equipment to be kept onsite to recharge the FRCs’ systems. The team will do the heavy lifting and fly out a technician for the final assembly and certification. Two complete sets of bottles were procured at the same time. The first set came aboard the Hercules, and the second will come by cargo ship at a fee of just under $4,000. However, as of Christmas, the second set of bottles are still in transit and will take around 75 days total to arrive, emphasizing the importance of the Engineering Team’s efforts and choices.


“This team continues to deliver on the Commandant’s mandate to be creative and innovative to craft solutions to the challenges we face as a service,” said Capt. Nick Simmons, commander of CGFM/SG. “I am impressed by their commitment and resolve to consistently deliver superior engineering support, keeping us operational in a remote environment.”

In the Fiscal Year 2022, the three Guam-based FRCs spent 324 days away from homeport, with 243 of those days physically underway conducting missions at sea. The other days away from homeport account for port calls, community engagements, and maintenance away from the home station. They worked 25 patrols throughout the region, enforcing the rule of law and strengthening partnerships. Guam’s sister sector in Honolulu also has three FRCs doing local and long-range missions. By comparison, they spent 202 days at sea for roughly the same number of patrols. This underscores the distances and demands Team Guam is covering.

“We have better platforms to help our crews get after the ever-growing mission demand here. But we must not lose sight of the demand on the crews and what is necessary to maintain our availability and effectiveness as a preferred partner in the region,” said Simmons. “That means putting steel on target, remaining flexible, and ensuring our crews have the support they need to succeed in a dynamic operational environment. I thank the CGAS Barbers Point team for ensuring our success and enabling the Frederick Hatch crew to work with our partners in Oceania and protect the Nation.”

This fire bottle transport is an excellent example of integrated logistics across the U.S. Coast Guard enterprise and innovation to find a timely cost-reasonable solution to keep the ship operational and on schedule. It is also a model for expanded Coast Guard aviation support to Guam.

For more U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam news, visit us on DVIDS or subscribe! You can also visit us on Facebook or Instagram at @USCGForcesMicronesia or Twitter @USCGFMSG. 

Some Posts of Interest

Bell’s V-280 prototype

There have been some posts that may be of interest published recently that I will point to below, with only brief comments.

“The New Coast Guard Funding Bill Is Really Good For The USCG” –Forbes There is a lot here, but you should recognize that this is the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), not an actual budget. It is not uncommon to have items in the authorization that are not included in the corresponding budget, so we have to wait a little longer to see what is actually funded.

The Coast Guard is directed to complete a number of studies. I hope they will be completed and delivered to Congress, but they may not be and if they are, we may never know. I have been told, a lot of reports get delivered late, because there is little penalty, and the committees don’t need to inform anyone else of whether they have received a report they requested.

“Some Fun Coast Guard Reads In Forbes” –Next Navy: This talks about the post above and a second post that suggests that the Coast Guard replace the C-27 with the Army’s recently selected V-280. I think the production version of the V-280 has a good chance of finding a place in the Coast Guard. Ultimately it might even replace all our land-based helicopters and all the fixed wing aircraft except the C-130, but that is many years in the future. It’s premature to consider replacing the C-27. (Thanks to Walter for bringing this to my attention.)

“Expand Seattle Coast Guard base without impacting working waterfront”: The local longshoremen’s union takes issue with the three proposals for expansion of Base Seattle. (Thanks to Mike for bringing this to my attention.)

“MOAA Interview: Coast Guard Commandant Charts the Path Forward” Admiral Zukunft emphasized the Cutter recapitalization. Admiral Schultz spent a lot of time talking about shoreside infrastructure. Admiral Fagan’s emphasis is on personnel issues, e.g., recruiting, incentives for afloat billets, afloat billets for women, and women the Coast Guard in general. There is also a nod to the Arctic.

“US Army makes largest helicopter award in 40 years” –Defense News

Bell’s V-280 prototype

And the Winner is — The Bell V-280 Valor

Defense News reports the winner of the Army’s “Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft” competion to find a replacement for the H-60.

With a demonstrated cruise speed of 305 knots, if it can do the SAR mission, this has real potential for the Coast Guard.

“The service wants FLRAA to be capable of traveling roughly 2,440 nautical miles (or 2,810 miles) without refueling, but also to be agile enough to maneuver troops into dangerous hot spots.”

1,725 nautical miles one way, was the threshold requirement.

Unless they add folding blades and a stowable wing like on the V-22, it really doesn’t look like it would be easily adaptable for shipboard use, but there is still another aircraft to be selected under the Future Vertical Lift program and it will be smaller. There are currently two competitors, The Bell Invictus and the Sikorsky Rader X. My money is on the Raider X compound helicopter. It also looks like it would require less modification to convert to civilian and Coast Guard use and seems to offer more improvement over existing aircraft.  

I also don’t think we can assume the Sikorsky competitor for FLRAA will completely disappear.

“MH-65 upgrades were invaluable to mission success in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian” –CG-9

The report below is from the CG-9 website

MH-65 upgrades were invaluable to mission success in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian

Air Station Miami crew during Hurricane Ian

The Air Station Miami crew evacuates a person in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. In addition to Air Station Miami’s MH-65Es and HC-144Bs, the coordinated rescue included one MH-65E from Air Station Houston and two MH-65Ds from Air Station Savannah. Total statistics for the coordinated rescue: 46 lives saved, 36 lives assisted and 19 pets saved. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Air Station Miami.

Hurricane Ian caused nearly 150 fatalities when it swept through Florida in late September 2022 and has been cited as the deadliest hurricane to hit Florida since 1935. In the search and rescue efforts that followed, Air Station Miami crewmembers played a pivotal role in rescuing both human and animal survivors. According to the pilots, upgrades on the Coast Guard’s MH-65E proved vital during multiple rescue missions. In the days following the storm they were faced with harried conditions when fuel stops were limited, communications were intermittent and lives depended on the speed and awareness of the crew.

The upgraded MH-65E, or Echo, sports an all-glass cockpit and Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS) that replaced legacy analog components. The new system aligns with Federal Aviation Administration next-generation requirements that call for performance and space-based navigation and surveillance, allowing for more three-dimensional approaches and flight patterns as well as higher visibility of the helicopter by other on-scene aircraft.

Integral to the CAAS is the automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast, or ADS-B, which allowed command aircraft (both Coast Guard HC-144 and Navy P-3) to track the MH-65E even when it was no longer visible to the crews. The moving map on the pilot screens can be overlayed with the traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS), which helps deconflict airspace with multiple aircraft maneuvering in tight quarters. The display can be placed across four multi-function display (MFD) screens and is accessible to both pilots.

“The TCAS was immensely helpful, especially being able to use the moving map overlay,” said Lt. Audra Forteza. “There were so many aircraft in the area, both military and civilian, and not everyone was making traffic calls as they should be – the TCAS allowed us to quickly and efficiently find the most imminent threat and maneuver to maintain separation. Knowing where exactly to look for a target made identification much faster and allowed us to focus on the mission at hand vice continually searching for other aircraft.”

The crewmembers were equally impressed by the bingo fuel alerts, an aviator term used to describe the minimum fuel an aircraft requires to land safely at its designated landing site. Fuel stops were severely limited because of widespread power outages on the ground. This meant that finding an airport with a generator strong enough to facilitate refueling was largely based on recommendations from other parties in communication with the aircrews. “Word of mouth was key to success for aircrews operating the area to determine which airports had fuel,” Forteza said. “And the people at the airfields were extremely accommodating in getting crews food, fuel, water and bathrooms.”

The MFD screens were also very useful when it came to hoisting survivors out of difficult situations while maintaining situational awareness and control of the aircraft. Forteza was able to monitor her co-pilot safely and effectively while they operated the hoist in a series of challenging urban environment rescues over the course of several days.

Additionally, utilizing the upgraded radar weather mode allowed for safe navigation between hurricane bands as the crews searched for survivors by painting a clearer, more accurate picture of the evolving weather situation even when their in-flight tablets did not have reception. In response to Hurricane Ian, Air Station Miami pilots flew a total of 46 hours over several days. Forteza and Lt. Danielle Benedetto personally contributed to saving the lives of 16 people, as well as five cats and three dogs. The air station fully transitioned to the MH-65E in July 2021.

Air Station Miami crew

Air Station Miami crew, from left: Petty Officer 2nd Class Tyler Kilbane, Petty Officer 2nd Class Nick Rodriguez, Lt. Audra Forteza and Lt. Danielle Benedetto. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Live shots taken by Minotaur-equipped HC-144

Live shots of Hurricane Ian damage taken by Minotaur-equipped HC-144 aircraft were used to support the Incident Management Team. U.S. Coast Guard photos.

MH-65E transition
The Coast Guard has completed 52 out of 98 total conversions including avionics upgrades to the Echo configuration and Service Life Extension work. Air stations that have completed the transition and number of aircraft:

Houston 3
Miami 5
Port Angeles, WA 3
Barbers Point, HI 4
North Bend, OR 5
Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron 12
Humboldt Bay, CA 3
San Francisco 7

Next up for conversion are Atlantic City, N.J., and Savannah, GA

For more information: MH-65 Short Range Recovery Helicopter Program page and Minotaur Mission System Program page

“Coast Guard delivers upgraded multi-mission helicopters to Air Station Atlantic City” –D5 News Release

MH-65E interior.

While you may have heard the Coast Guard is headed for an all H-60 rotary wing fleet, it seems we will continue to have H-65a for some time.

The upgrades comply with the Federal Aviation Administration’s Next Generation Airspace Transportation System requirements, and extends the aircraft service life to the late 2030s.

The Coast Guard plans to convert all 98 of its Dolphin helicopters to the MH-65E configuration by the end of 2024.

News Release U.S. Coast Guard 5th District Public Affairs North
D5 Public Affairs North, Baltimore, Md

Coast Guard delivers upgraded multi-mission helicopters to Air Station Atlantic City 

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City received its first upgraded MH-65E Dolphin helicopter Monday to replace the legacy MH-65D helicopters that serve out of the Coast Guard’s largest MH-65 helicopter unit. 

The avionics upgrade to the Echo or “E” configuration will provide enhanced search and rescue capabilities including modern “glass cockpit” technology that increases pilot and aircrew situational awareness. 

The Dolphin upgrades also include reliability and capability improvements for the automatic flight control system, enhanced digital weather and surface radar, and multifunctional displays with more accurate fuel calculations.

The upgrades comply with the Federal Aviation Administration’s Next Generation Airspace Transportation System requirements, and extends the aircraft service life to the late 2030s.

The transition of Air Station Atlantic City’s 12 MH-65D helicopters to the upgraded “E” configuration is expected to take approximately 10 months. 

During the upgrade period, the unit’s 62 pilots and 104 aircrew members will undergo a three-week transition course at the Aviation Training Center in Mobile, Alabama. Aircrew and mechanics will undergo formal training specific to their roles and duties during this course.

“The upgrades and advanced training will enhance the situational awareness of our aircrews and improve mission planning capabilities aboard the Coast Guard’s most prolific rotary-wing asset,” said Cmdr. Christian Polyak, engineering officer at Air Station Atlantic City. “The replacement and inspection of key aircraft components as a part of the upgrade are also expected to extend the aircraft’s service-life and enable us to continue safeguarding and securing our coasts for years to come.”

Air Station Atlantic City Dolphin helicopter crews perform search and rescue, provide aids to navigation support, and maritime law enforcement and marine environmental protection to the mid-Atlantic region from Long Island, New York, to the Maryland/Virginia border. 

Air Station Atlantic City helicopters and aircrews also provide continuous support for the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s airspace security mission in Washington, D.C., and throughout the country as necessary.

Additionally, the upgrades also include advanced navigation capabilities that will allow pilots to safely maneuver through highly congested, complex air traffic that can be encountered in situations such as disaster response.

The Coast Guard plans to convert all 98 of its Dolphin helicopters to the MH-65E configuration by the end of 2024.

For more information visit the MH-65 Program page at SRR – MH-65 (uscg.mil) .

“Coast Guard aircrews putting MH-65E new capabilities to good use” –CG-9

MH-65E interior.

The Acquisitions Directorate (CG-9) has an excellent post about the upgrades that bring the MH-65s up to the “Echo” standard.

While there is a long term intent to ultimately move to an all H-60 fleet, the H-65 fleet still has a future.

In conjunction with the upgrades, the Coast Guard is completing service life extension program activities on the Dolphin fleet to replace five major structural 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 Coast Guard plans to convert all 98 aircraft to the MH-65E configuration by the end of fiscal year 2024.

The Coast Guard’s Air Policing Job Over DC and Armed Overwatch

Back in 2014, I published a post, Random Thoughts on CG Aircraft Missions,
that among other things, talked about the Coast Guard’s air policing/intercept duties over the National Capital, now being done by MH-65s, and use of fixed wing aircraft to provide air borne use of force support for Webber class cutters, which is a capability we currently do not have. 
We may have a unique opportunity to address the problems discussed, using excess USAF assets at little or no cost. In the case of the Air Policing operation it might even reduce operating costs.
To outline the problems, as I see them, I will simply repeat the arguments from the earlier post.
The DC intercept: The problems with the current use of H-65s for intercepting general aviation aircraft that violate the standing airspace restrictions over the capital is that: (1) Many general aviation aircraft have a higher maximum air speed than the helicopter. (2) Even if the target is slower, the relatively slow speed of the helicopter may make achieving an intercept problematic. (3) If the aircraft is in fact hostile, the helicopter has to hand over the task of destroying it to an interceptor aircraft or missile battery introducing the possibilities of delays and misdirection.
Airborne use of force for law enforcement: In the Webber class cutters, the Coast Guard has an asset that can perform many of the missions normally expected of a medium endurance cutter, including drug and migrant interdiction, but they do not enjoy the advantage of organic aviation assets. There is no helicopter to augment their search, to chase down high speed contacts, or to use force to compel them to stop. When boardings are performed, they have neither a second boat nor an armed helicopter to provide over-watch as their boarding team approaches a suspected trafficer.
A couple of the aircraft I suggested might be appropriate for these roles were the A-29 Super Tucano and the AT-6 Wolverine.

The second A-29 Super Tucano for Air Force Special Operations Command, which received this one-off heritage scheme honoring the 1st Air Commando Group of World War II. Sierra Nevada Corporation

It just so happens, the Air Force has three A-29s and two AT-6s that are excess, now less than two years old, and they plan to dispose of them.
Compared to our helicopters, these aircraft have greater speed, range, and endurance and are, I believe, less expensive to operate. They are certainly less expensive to operate than our twin engine fixed wing aircraft.
In addition, these aircraft have excellent electro-optics and both air-to-air and air-to-surface capability, should it be necessary.
Replacing the H-65s providing air policing over DC, with the three A-29s, would not only provide a more capable interceptor, one still capable of operating at low air speeds, it would also reduce wear and tear on the H-65 fleet, whose maintenance has become problematic. As Air Force Special Operations Force aircraft, these planes may be better equipped to interface with the Capital Area Air Defenses, including F-16s and Army Surface to Air missile batteries than the MH-65s.

Basing the two AT-6s out of Puerto Rico would allow them to provide armed overwatch to Webber class WPCs in an area of intense activity. They could also be used as search assets given their excellent capabilities. The AT-6s are based on the T-6 Texan II trainer that is used to train all military aviators including Coast Guard. I understand there are now over 1000 T-6s and the two aircraft have 85% parts commonality.

If we chose to arm these, beyond their organic .50 cal. machine guns, we could probably make an arrangement with a nearby DOD air base to arm the aircraft.

An A-29 Super Tucano with potential external stores. 

C-27 Maneuverability

The US Coast Guard now has fourteen C-27Js that were virtually new, but considered excess by the USAF. They fly out of Elizabeth City and Sacramento. This aircraft is not as well known as the C-130, but it does have some unique capabilities. If you happen to catch a ride in one, don’t expect your Coast Guard pilot to fly like this, but it is nice to know what it can do.

The Aviation Geek Club brings us the video above and talks about the aircraft.

A Coast Guard C-27J Spartan crew, assigned to Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento, flies over San Francisco, California, during area of responsibility familiarization training, Monday, Feb. 6, 2018. The C-27Js are outfitted with weather radar and communications equipment capable of supporting transport and other Coast Guard missions. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Scott Handlin

Thanks to Dennis for bringing this to my attention. 

“Coast Guard awards contract for C-130J missionization” –CG-9

Coast Guard C130J

This isn’t your father’s C-130.

Below is an announcement of a contract by the Acquisitions Directorate (CG-9).

Just take a moment to consider that the Coast Guard is spending an additional $24.5M on each brand new C-130J to increase their capability. These are not ASW aircraft, but they are serious maritime patrol aircraft with state of the art capability for maritime domain awareness.

Their unique capabilities need to be included in planning for any future major naval conflict.

Coast Guard awards contract for C-130J missionization

The Coast Guard awarded a contract to L-3 Communications Integrated Systems LP (L3Harris) July 12 for the missionization of up to six C-130J Super Hercules long range surveillance aircraft.

The firm fixed price contract is for the production, installation and delivery of the Minotaur Mission System Suite and a Block 8.1 upgrade for the 17th and 18th C-130J aircraft in the fleet. The contract also includes options for missionization of aircraft 19-22, which will have the Block 8.1 upgrade installed during baseline production at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. Potential total value of the contract is $147 million.

Work will be completed at L3Harris’ Waco, Texas, facility. Minotaur incorporates sensors, radar and command, control, communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment necessary to carry out Coast Guard missions and offers significant increases in processing speed and memory capacity.

The Block 8.1 upgrade adds new and advanced capabilities, including enhanced inter-communication system, enhanced approach and landing systems, expanded diagnostics, civil GPS and additional covert lighting.

The HC-130J carries out many Coast Guard missions, including search and rescue, drug and migrant interdiction, cargo and personnel transport and maritime stewardship. The aircraft is capable of serving as an on-scene command and control platform or as a surveillance platform with the means to detect, classify and identify objects and share that information with operational forces.

For more information: HC-130J Long Range Surveillance Aircraft Program page