Common suites bring interoperability to USCG patrol aircraft
By JOHN C. MARCARIO, Assistant Editor
The Coast Guard has begun churning out
major pieces of its Deepwater modernization
program aimed at improving on and expanding its command, control, communications, sensor
and logistics infrastructure.
During the past four months, three Lockheed Martin
HC-130J Hercules long-range surveillance maritime patrol
aircraft and EADS CASA-built HC-144A Ocean Sentry
maritime patrol aircraft were delivered to the Coast Guard.
The aircraft bring new command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities to the Coast Guard. For
example, the HC-144A has an Automatic Identification
System, Electronic Support Measures for identifying
vessel signatures, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and
Inverse Synthetic Aperture radar (ISAR) modes on surface search radar, Secure Internet Protocol Router for
encrypted communications capability, and multiple
HF-ALE radios for simultaneous high-frequency communications and data transmission.
The HC-130J also carries that
equipment as well as a dedicated
weather radar and a 360-degree
belly-mounted maritime surface
search radar that incorporates the
SAR and ISAR.
The aircraft also share a common mission systems suite that
allows for complete interoperability between platforms.
The HC-144As, mission-tailored
versions of EADS CASA’s CN-235
military transports, are aimed at
homeland security missions, search-and-rescue operations and law
enforcement. The HC-144A is
replacing the HU- 25 Falcon. EADS
CASA builds the aircraft as a subcontractor to Lockheed Martin, the
prime on the Ocean Sentry contract.
The HC-130J, the first of which was delivered Feb.
29, features new mission equipment and sensor packages designed to deliver improved search, detection
and tracking capabilities to perform maritime search
and rescue, maritime law enforcement and homeland
security missions, according to a Lockheed release.
The two main advantages of the common mission
system suites are logistics and development. Because
they are the same, a Lockheed worker can pull a
Forward Looking Infrared Radar off the shelf and send
it to Mobile, Ala., for installation on an HC-144A, or to
Elizabeth City, N.J., for mounting on an HC-130J. Some
components used on the mission system also can be
used on the National Security Cutter, the first of which,
Bertholf, will be delivered by summer.
Another advantage is development. While there are
no current plans to pursue this common mission suite
option for other assets in the Deepwater program,
Lockheed can develop software — by studying how it
works on the HC-130J, HC-144A and Bertholf — and
The aviation and C4ISR portions of the Deepwater program have
gone more smoothly than the troubled ship portions of the fleet
■ HC-144A maritime patrol aircraft: The Coast Guard has the
first three planes. Three more will be delivered this year and two
more are expected by early 2009. Those five will be delivered
ahead of schedule.
■ HC-130J long-range surveillance maritime patrol aircraft: Three
have been delivered. The Coast Guard is evaluating options to
convert three more.
■ National Security Cutter: The first, Bertholf, is expected to be
delivered by summer, while the second is slated to be delivered in
2009 and the third in 2011. A total of eight will be built.