Tuesday, August 2, 2011

SeaPower Magazine August 2011

The newest version of the U.S. Coast Guards H-65 Dolphin has been declared operational, even as the sendee proceeds with planning the next upgrade of the long-serving helicopter. The MH-65D program involves replacing the MH-65C helicopter's obsolete analog avionics � some of which were no longer supportable � with digital navigation systems, including an embedded Global Positioning System/inertial navigation system and new cockpit displays. The MH-65D represents Segment 4 of a six-segment modernization program, which has greatly increased the helicopter's capability. Under the Coast Guard's original Deepwater acquisition program, the modernization concept was known as the Multimission Cutter Helicopter. The project now is called the H-65 Short-Range Recovery Helicopter, according to Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Wilson, H-65 conversion/sustainment deputy project manager in the Coast Guard's Aviation Acquisition office. The Coast Guard originally placed 96 HH-65A Dolphins in operational service beginning in 1984. It became the most numerous aircraft in Coast Guard service and was the primary rescue helicopter that deployed on aviation-capable cutters. All existing HH-65As were modified with some digital systems, including new displays, a mission computer and a Rockwell Collins integrated flight management system, as they went through programmed depot maintenance routine overhauls at the Aircraft Repair and Supply Center � now the Aviation Logistics Center (ALC) � at Elizabeth City, N.C., and emerged as HH-65Bs. The HH-65B became operational in May 2001.