The United States is one step closer to introducing an important new tool for the protection of its borders and the monitoring of international waters with the arrival of the first EADS CASA HC-144A maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft at the U.S. Coast Guard aviation facility in North Carolina.
The no. 1 HC-144A was formally transferred to Coast Guard ownership last month, and was flown by one of the services' crews from the EADS CASA production center in Seville, Spain to the Coast Guard's Aircraft Repair and Supply Center (AR&SC) at Elizabeth City, North Carolina.
“The HC-144A's delivery is further proof of EADS North America's continuing strong support for the U.S. Coast Guard and its mission to keep America safe and secure, said Ralph Crosby, Chairman and CEO of EADS North America. “Our company has worked with agencies of the Department of Homeland Security for more than 20 years, and we now have met our promise of helping provide it with another proven and capable multi-mission platform.
The HC-144A is a derivative of EADS CASA's CN-235/C-295 airlifter family, and is the first all-new aircraft developed for the Coast Guard's Integrated Deepwater System modernization program. EADS CASA is supplying the aircraft under contract to the Integrated Coast Guard Systems (ICGS) a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, with three HC-144As currently under contract. The Deepwater implementation plan calls for production and system integration of 36 aircraft through 2017.
When the HC-144A enters Coast Guard operational service later this year, it will be utilized for search and rescue missions, illegal drug and immigrant interdiction, for marine environmental protection, military readiness operations and international ice patrol missions “ as well as for cargo and personnel transport.
Mission equipment and sensors permanently installed on the twin-engine aircraft include a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) sensor, a daylight charge-coupled device (CCD) camera and daylight spotter scope, and a multi-mode radar. A roll-on/roll-off palletized mission system composed of a C4ISR pallet with two operator consoles will be integrated by Lockheed Martin.
The HC-144's large cargo cabin and a rear ramp allow the palletized mission system to be easy loaded and unloaded, enabling the aircraft to be tailored at short notice to the Coast Guard's specific operational requirements. When installed, the pallet is linked to the HC-144A's on-board mission equipment/sensor package; when removed, the HC-144's 32-ft.-long cabin is fully available for cargo, airlift and medevac payloads. The rear ramp also can be opened in flight for the deployment of search-and-rescue equipment.
EADS CASA North America has established a support center at Alabama's Mobile Regional Airport as part of its commitment to the HC-144A's introduction and operation with the Coast Guard. This 13,000 square-foot facility will assist the Coast Guard in transitioning the aircraft into active service, as well as providing computer-based training for its aircrews and support personnel. The Mobile site also is the primary spare parts depot and service center for all EADS CASA aircraft operating in North America.
The Alabama facility is located adjacent to the U.S. Coast Guard Aviation Training Center (ATC), where pilots will be trained to fly the HC-144A. The first ATC crew completed HC-144A training with EADS CASA in Spain during December, and then flew the no. 1 aircraft to Elizabeth City.
EADS CASA's CN-235/C-295 family of multi-mission aircraft has logged more than one million flights in operation with military services worldwide. The C-295 is being offered for the U.S. Army/Air Force Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) requirement by Team JCA “ a joint effort of Raytheon and EADS CASA North America. The initial C-295 JCA airlifter was flown by the U.S. Army last October/November in its Early User Survey evaluation for the Joint Cargo Aircraft program.
In addition to the Coast Guard's future operation of EADS HC-144A aircraft, the service also has a fleet of 95 EADS Eurocopter HH-65 Dolphin helicopters. These rotary-wing aircraft currently are being upgraded to the improved-performance HH-65C version by ICGS, Lockheed Martin and EADS North America's American Eurocopter business unit.
About EADS North America (www.eadsnorthamerica.com)
EADS North America is the North American operations of EADS, the second largest aerospace and defense company in the world. As a leader in all sectors of defense and homeland security, EADS North America and its parent company, EADS, contribute over $8.5 billion to the U.S. economy annually and support more than 174,000 American jobs through its network of suppliers and services. With 11 operating companies located in 32 cities and 17 states, EADS North America offers a broad array of advanced solutions to its customers in the commercial, homeland security, aerospace and defense markets.