By John McHale
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - Earlier this year, U.S. Coast Guard officials announced the new HH-65C Dauphine helicopters at Coast Guard Air Station in Atlantic City. The helicopters will be replacing the HH-65B helicopters as part of the Deepwater Programs modernization and recapitalization of the Coast Guard.
Air Station Atlantic City is the first air station in the Coast Guard to receive the new helicopters in time for the boating season.
The helicopter was upgraded with Turbomeca Arriel 2C2 turboshaft engines that provide substantial power, flight-control, and flight-safety improvements. The helicopter’s communication system will be fully interoperable with other Deepwater assets, as well as with agencies assigned to the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense and local first-responders, Coast Guard officials say.
Twin-engine HH-65 helicopters are particularly well-suited for search and rescue, fisheries patrols, maritime security, border patrol, monitoring illegal immigration and drug interdiction. The modernization effort to re-engine all 95 HH-65 helicopters in the fleet with the upgraded engine includes the provision of kits by American Eurocopter (AEC), a division of EADS North America. The conversion kits facilitate installation of extended heat shields, a reconfigured cockpit, and specialized avionics software needed for shipboard operations.
“These re-engined helicopters are an essential improvement in safety and reliability for our crews,” says Vice Adm. Vivien S. Crea, commander, Atlantic Area and Maritime Defense Zone Atlantic. “They are a critical component of our offshore capability and will allow us to perform more effectively across all of our missions.”
The upgrade of all HH-65’s within the next two years will remedy significant safety and reliability concerns that impact the aging helicopters, but accelerating the HH-65 re-engining project depends upon the availability of funding, conversion kits, engines, and suitable production facilities. The modernization process is being conducted by the ICGS team-a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman Corp. in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard’s HH-65 re-engining facility is currently the Aircraft Repair and Supply Center (ARSC) in Elizabeth City, N.C. A second line at American Eurocopter Facility in Columbus, Miss., will provide additional work.