EADS CASA HC-144A Ocean Sentry

Stargazer2006

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U.S. Coast Guard HC-144A Medium Range Surveillance (MRS) Aircraft

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The HC-144A, designated the Ocean Sentry, is a fixed-wing aircraft that will be used to perform various missions, including maritime patrol and cargo and personnel transport. It is the first all-new aircraft delivered to the Coast Guard as part of its recapitalization program. The HC-144A is based on the highly successful CASA CN-235 military airplane, already in use around the world as a patrol, surveillance and transport platform. The HC-144A will replace the Coast Guard's aging fleet of HU-25 Falcon jets as the service's medium range surveillance aircraft.


Capability

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Endurance

The HC-144A is capable of remaining airborne much longer than the legacy HU-25 Falcon jet. Taking into consideration factors such as total weight, the HC-144A can remain airborne in excess of nine hours versus four hours maximum for the HU-25 Falcon. Greater endurance allows the aircrew to remain on-scene longer, collect more information, support other assets, and track targets for longer periods of time.

Mission Pallet

The HC-144A’s Mission System Pallet (MSP) is a roll-on, roll-off suite of electronic equipment that collects, compiles, interprets and disseminates data from the aircraft’s integrated sensors and electronic surveillance equipment, improving Coast Guard situational awareness and responsiveness. A first for Coast Guard aviation, the MSP’s communication suite is also capable of transmitting and receiving Secret-level information via the Department of Defense’s Secure Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNET), improving the Coast Guard’s interoperability with other agencies. The HC-144A’s MSP is approximately 90 percent similar to the systems found on the HC-130H and HC-130J Long Range Surveillance aircraft, enabling commonality in training and operation.

Test and Evaluation

Once outfitted with a mission system pallet for C4ISR and other mission-specific capabilities at ARSC, each aircraft is flown to the Coast Guard's Aviation Training Center in Mobile, Ala. for operational tests and evaluation before entering into Coast Guard service

Status

To date, nine HC-144As have been delivered to the Coast Guard. Coast Guard Air Station Miami recently received its first HC-144A Ocean Sentry Maritime Patrol Aircraft, which marked a significant milestone in the stand-up of HC-144A operations throughout the Coast Guard. Air Station Miami is the second Coast Guard air station to obtain the HC-144A. Flight crews are familiarizing themselves with the unique operational characteristics, capabilities and systems of the Ocean Sentry and maintenance crews have commenced routine servicing, inspections and ground handling procedures.


The HC-144A's official webpage: http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg9/mrs/
Link to high-resolution images: https://www.piersystem.com/go/doc/425/212569/

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NOTE: The HC-144A was initially known under the non-standard USCG designation HC-235A.
 

Grey Havoc

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Would I be correct in thinking that the HC-144A is primarily a SIGINT/ELINT platform for use in support of Homeland Security missions, with a secondary Maritime Patrol role?
 

blackstar

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Grey Havoc said:
Would I be correct in thinking that the HC-144A is primarily a SIGINT/ELINT platform for use in support of Homeland Security missions, with a secondary Maritime Patrol role?

Actually, I just walked through one yesterday at Joint Air Base Andrews (aka Andrews AFB) and it is clearly configured for maritime patrol. Mostly a big open cargo space in the back for pushing out things like life rafts. I took this picture (didn't take any internal pictures, but I walked through it).
 

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Grey Havoc

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I was wondering, what with the description of the MSP and the Sentry having a SIPRNET node.
 

blackstar

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Grey Havoc said:
I was wondering, what with the description of the MSP and the Sentry having a SIPRNET node.

The one I saw was from a training squadron, so maybe it was not in final configuration. But other than a table in the forward rear cabin, it was just a long empty payload bay.
 

TomS

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Not an ELINT platform, any more than your typical maritime patrol aircraft is an ELINT platform (most are to some degree, depending on how you define ELINT).

The way I understand it, the basic HC-144A airframe has a radar, FLIR/EO turret, radio/radar direction-finding (ESM), and so forth -- basically the normal kit you'd expect in a maritime surface surveillance platform. This gear is all useful for SAR and maritime interdiction (drugs, migrants, etc.). In the basic configuration, it is operated by the flight deck crew. Obviously, that's suboptimal, since the flight-deck guys are primarily pilots, not sensor operators. With MSP, you get a couple of dedicated operator consoles to run the sensors plus improved communications systems to disseminate the data. SIPRNET is included because the Coast Guard is moving a lot of its operational comms to secure networks.

The HC-144 can fly in a bunch of different configs -- with MSP for maximum surveillance performance, with an empty cargo bay, with troop or airliner-style passenger seats, or with litters for aeromedical evacuation. Note that there are more airframes procured or on order than there are MSPs, so there will probably always be airframes out there with empty cargo bays.
 

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