MH-65 Short Range Recovery (SRR) Helicopter, United States of America
The MH-65 Short Range Recovery (SRR) helicopter is operated by the US Coast Guard (USCG). It is an upgraded variant of the HH-65 Dolphin, manufactured by Eurocopter. The MH-65 features new engines, avionics and other mission equipment.
The MH-65 SRR helicopter can conduct search and rescue (SAR), law enforcement, homeland security and marine environmental protection missions in all-weather and day / night conditions. The MH-65 is the only USCG helicopter deployed on Coast Guard cutters.
HH-65 conversion and sustainment project
The HH-65 conversion and sustainment project was commenced in 2004. The project is being implemented in six phases or discrete segments to extend the service life of the helicopter through 2027. The work is being carried out at the USCG Aviation Logistics Centre (ALC) in Elizabeth City. The ALC plans to upgrade the HH-65 fleet at an average rate of 22 aircraft a year.
The first segment replaced the existing LTS-101-750 engines with Turbomeca Arriel 2C2-CG engines, providing 40% more power. Seven new helicopters were acquired under Segment 2 to find and intercept non-compliant light aircraft flying within the Washington Air Defence Identification Zone.
The helicopters were fitted with weapon systems during the third segment, while other older subsystems were replaced under Segment 4 upgrades. About 46 helicopters underwent the discrete Segment 4 upgrades by January 2013. These helicopters were re-designated as MH-65D.
The MH-65 helicopters will be fitted with ship landing capabilities as part of the fifth phase. The final segment of upgrades will provide the helicopters with digital avionics and cockpit instruments. The MH-65 helicopter will be re-designated as MH-65E after completing the final stage of upgrades.
MH-65 SRR helicopter design, cockpit and avionics
The MH-65 integrates new engines and advanced avionics, with the airframe based on that of the HH-65 Dolphin. The fuselage, rotor head and rotor blades are of composite construction. The fuselage includes a pointed nose, low-set forward cockpit and a twin-engine power-plant mounted above the cabin.
The helicopter has a length of 11.6m, height of four metres and a rotor diameter of 11.9m. The maximum take-off weight of the MH-65 is 4,300kg. The helicopter accommodates four crew members, including two pilots, one flight mechanic and a rescue swimmer.
The MH-65 features a common avionics architecture system (CAAS) digital glass cockpit from Rockwell Collins. The CASS instruments are similar to those of USCG's upgraded MH-60T Medium Range Recovery helicopter.
The cockpit integrates five multifunction displays, control displays, TacView portable mission display, digital automatic flight control system and integrated traffic collision avoidance system.
Upgraded helicopters are also provided with a new digital weather radar system, radar altimeter, dual Honeywell H-764G embedded GPS/INS systems and forward looking infrared (FLIR) system. The radar and electro-optical / infrared (EO/IR) sensors provide an improved common operational picture.
Armament and engines on the USCG's helicopter
The MH-65 is armed with a 7.62mm M240B/H general-purpose machine gun and a Barrett M107 12.7mm precision rifle. The onboard weapon systems provide fire support and allow the Coast Guard boarding teams to disable engines on non-compliant boats.
The MH-65 helicopter is powered by two Turbomeca Arriel 2C2-CG turboshaft engines. Each engine develops a maximum continuous power of 853shp at sea level when both engines are operative.
The engine can generate a power output of 1,053shp with one engine inoperative. The operation of the engines is controlled by a full authority digital engine control (FADEC) system.
The Arriel 2C2-CG delivers 40% more power than the previous engine. The additional power provides the aircraft with high endurance, increased maximum take-off weight (MTOW) and improved survivability.
Short Range Recovery helicopter performance
The MH-65 helicopter can fly at a cruise speed of 148kt and maximum speed of 175kt. The service ceiling of the helicopter is 10,000ft. The helicopter can conduct operations within the range of 290 nautical miles (nm). It has an endurance of three hours.
MH-60T is a medium-range helicopter in service with the US Coast Guard (USCG). It is a modernised variant of the MH-60J Medium Range Recovery (MRR) helicopter.
EC135 is a multimission twin-engine helicopter manufactured by Eurocopter.