The Coast Guard’s District 7 executes missions in an immense area stretching over 1.8 million square miles. As of this month, Coast Guard aviators have a new aircraft to fly those two million square miles – the HC-144A Ocean Sentry.
The HC-144A Ocean Sentry is the Coast Guard’s newest aircraft delivered as part of its recapitalization program and will serve as the service’s medium range surveillance aircraft. Air Station Miami is the second operational unit to fly the HC-144A, with the first being Aviation Training Center (ATC) Mobile.
Capable of remaining in flight in excess of nine hours, it doubles that of the hours for the legacy HU-25 Falcon. This greater endurance allows Coast Guard aircrews to remain on-scene longer, adding value to the execution of law enforcement, marine and environmental response and search and rescue missions.
Since the delivery of Air Station Miami’s first HC-144A on March 10, the pilots who will fly the Ocean Sentry have trained and transitioned their qualifications. The pilots attended a ten-week course at ATC Mobile where they familiarized themselves with the aircraft and studied the Sentry’s new systems.
In a series of extensive technical training, the avionics electrical technicians and aviation maintenance technicians at Air Station Miami have also begun transitioning qualifications, to include experienced operators arriving from ATC Mobile this summer.
A standard operational crew for the Ocean Sentry consists of two mission system operators (MSO), one drop master or load master (mission dependent) and one basic aircrewman.
The MSO position is a new role for aircrews with the arrival of the Ocean Sentry platform. MSOs are tasked with operating the on board mission system pallet (MSP) that combines a wide-ranging suite of electronic equipment that collects, compiles, interprets and disseminates data from the sensors and electronic equipment on the aircraft. These integrated components further improve situational awareness and responsiveness of Coast Guard aircrews.
Additionally, in a first for Coast Guard aviation, the Ocean Sentry is capable of transmitting and receiving Secret-level information, improving the Coast Guard’s interoperability with the Department of Defense.
Air Station Miami is proud of its 78-year history of aviation excellence and continues to stand ever at ready as the Coast Guard’s newest, and 16th airframe in it’s history, takes to the skies.