Purchases 2 More Ocean Sentry Maritime Patrol Airplanes
By Cmdr. Chris O'Neil
April 7, 2012 - The U.S. Coast Guard exercised a $78.54
million contract option Wednesday to purchase the
service’s 16th and 17th HC-144 Ocean Sentry maritime
patrol airplane from EADS North America.
The Coast Guard has already taken delivery of 13 Ocean
Sentries, with the 14th due by July.
The Coast Guard exercised the first option on the
contract for the 15th Ocean Sentry in August 2011 with
delivery expected in the summer of 2013.
Even before the Coast Guard formally accepted the first
Mission Systems Pallet, which provides enhanced sensors
and communications equipment, for the Ocean Sentries in
March 2008, the HC-144 was already proving its value and
The airplane conducted its first search and rescue mission in February 2008, when the aircraft and crew oversaw search efforts following the collision of two U.S. Air Force F-15C fighter jets over the Gulf of Mexico.
still undergoing integration and operational testing at the
time, the Ocean Sentry’s mission system collected Automatic
Identification System data, which in turn helped identify and
communicate with civilian vessels in the area of the crash,
including a good Samaritan vessel that was vectored to help
locate the downed airmen.
Sentry’s 10-hour, long-range capability, its ability to fly at
lower speeds than its HU-25 Falcon jet predecessor and its
passenger capacity proved key as the plane was selected by the
8th Coast Guard District commander to respond to flooding in the
Midwest in the summer of 2008.
The Ocean Sentry conducted flights over flooded areas,
helping Coast Guard leaders determine where to deploy rescue and
recovery resources and to provide the maritime industry
information about the flood’s impact on the maritime
Sentry’s sensor array and C4ISR (command, control,
communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and
reconnaissance) capabilities provided real-time situational
awareness of conditions in Haiti following the 7.0 magnitude
earthquake that devastated the island-nation in January 2010.
Ocean Sentry’s Mission System Pallet, a roll-on, roll-off suite
of electronic equipment, allows for superior collection,
interpretation and dissemination of data from the aircraft’s
multiple sensors, and the ability to transmit and receive
classified and unclassified information from other aircraft,
surface vessels or shore facilities.
The Ocean Sentry’s Mission System Pallet, a roll-on, roll-off suite of electronic equipment, allows for superior collection, interpretation and dissemination of data from the aircraft’s multiple sensors, and the ability to transmit and receive classified and unclassified information from other aircraft, surface vessels or shore facilities.
The Ocean Sentry
is also equipped with an Electro-Optical/Infra-Red system and a
multi-mode search radar.
About 90 percent similar to the Mission System Pallets found on the
Coast Guard’s HC-130Hercules airplanes, the Ocean Sentry’s Mission
System Pallet allows for common training and operation.
The Ocean Sentry’s
joint operations capabilities were demonstrated again in November 2011
as an HC-144 crew from Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile,
Ala., conducted the first high altitude-low opening and high
altitude-high opening parachute joint training exercise with the Special
Forces Operational Detachment Alpha and the U.S. Army’s 7th Special
The Ocean Sentry’s
value as a maritime patrol airplane is demonstrated daily in the Coast
Guard, but was highlighted in an alien migrant interdiction operation
off the coast of Puerto Rico in April 2011 where the HC-144’s crew
detected a dangerously overloaded 20-foot yola, and directed the
interdiction and rescue of the 21 illegal migrants aboard the small open
The Ocean Sentry has even assisted in the protection of living marine resources. A Mobile, Ala., based HC-144 and its crew transported 20 endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles from Hanscom Air Force Base, Lincoln, Mass., to Orlando, Fla., where the turtles were rehabilitated at Sea World before being released back into the wild.
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