HC-144A Ocean Sentry Medium-Range Surveillance Aircraft, United States of America

Ocean Sentry can be deployed in a range of missions

HC-144A Ocean Sentry is a new maritime patrol aircraft being manufactured by EADS North America for the US Coast Guard (USCG). It replaces the ageing fleet of HU-25 Guardian Falcon jets that are in service with the USCG.

The Ocean Sentry can be deployed in a range of missions, including homeland security, search and rescue, drug interdiction, marine environmental control and transporting cargo and personnel.

The HC-144A achieved initial operational capability (IOC) in 2009. The Ocean Sentry fleet is currently based at Coast Guard Air Stations in Mobile, Cape Cod and Miami. The HC-144A demonstrated superior functionality during the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The US Coast Guard plans to acquire a total of 36 HC-144As.

HC-144A orders and deliveries

"The acquisition forms part of the Integrated Deepwater System (IDS) modernisation programme."

The US Coast Guard placed a $130m contract with Integrated Coast Guard Systems (ICGS) in June 2003 to design and deliver two medium-range surveillance aircraft, based on EADS CASA CN-235 aircraft. The acquisition forms part of the Integrated Deepwater System (IDS) modernisation programme.

The first aircraft was officially transferred to the USCG in December 2006. EADS received an order for five more HC-144A aircraft in May 2007.

In August 2010, EADS North America was awarded with a $117m contract to deliver three HC-144A aircraft. The contract also includes options for the delivery of up to six more aircraft over a period of four years. EADS North America delivered the 14th HC-144A aircraft to the USCG in July 2012.

The USCG had received 14 HC-144As and 12 mission system pallets as of January 2013.

Design of the maritime patrol aircraft

Ocean Sentry was derived from CN235 multimission transport aircraft. The design incorporates a robust airframe offering a long structural fatigue life. The flexible rear ramp design can quickly adapt reconfigurations for different missions.

The HC-144A has a length of 21.4m, wing span of 25.8m and a height of 7.9m. The cabin width and heights of the aircraft are 2.47m and 1.9m respectively. The maximum take-off weight of the aircraft is 16,501kg. It can carry up to 40 passengers.

Cockpit and avionics technology

The glass cockpit accommodates two crew including a pilot and co-pilot. The night-vision-goggle compatible cockpit is fitted with state-of-the-art digital avionics suite integrating twin head-up displays, five multifunctional displays, engine display system, automatic flight control system and dual flight management system.

Sensors / radars of the USCG's HC-144A

The tactical mission system of HC-144A integrates a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) sensor, daylight CCD camera and daylight spotter scope installed on the chin-mounted turret of the aircraft. The under-fuselage is fitted with multimode search radar.

The aircraft is also equipped with airborne automatic identification system, DF-430 multi-mission direction finder and electronic support measures.

HC-144A Ocean Sentry mission systems

The aircraft can be integrated with roll-on/roll-off mission systems pallet (MSP) consisting of a C4ISR pallet with two operator consoles.

"In August 2010, EADS North America was awarded with a $117m contract to deliver three HC-144A aircraft."

The rear cargo ramp allows the loading and unloading of the pallet. The MSP is removed during airlift, cargo and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) operations.

The MSP equipment allows the operators to transfer communications and data to other aircraft, surface ships and shore commands.

The search and rescue systems can be deployed in flight by opening the rear ramp. The MSP aboard the HC-144A has about 90% commonality with the systems found on the HC-130H and HC-130J aircraft of the US Coast Guard.

Engines and landing gear

The Ocean Sentry

The Ocean Sentry can fly at a maximum altitude of 25,000ft

The Ocean Sentry is powered by two General Electric CT7-9C3 turboprop engines developing a total power output of 3,500shp. The engines drive Hamilton Standard four-bladed propellers.

The HC-144A is fitted with a retractable tricycle-type landing gear with tandem low-pressure tyres. The landing gear ensures the aircraft can carry out operations in remote locations with poor take-off and landing facilities. The aircraft can be operated from short, soft and semi-prepared runways.

HC-144A performance

The Ocean Sentry can fly at a maximum altitude of 25,000ft. It can climb at a rate of 1,948ft/min. The aircraft has a maximum cruise speed of 236kt and range of 2,040 nautical miles. The high endurance of HC-144C allows it to stay airborne for over ten hours.