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USA: controversy over Coast Guard helicopters

The authorities point fingers at the fleet modernization plan

The Washington administration has criticized the US Coast Guard's plan which aims to standardize the helicopter fleet in service into a single model and modernize it. This is a procedure that would have a total cost of 57.9 billion dollars. A move that the auditors of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) attacked in recent days. 

This is the United States Coast Guard's plan in detail: to eliminate from its fleet the MH-65D/E "Dolphin" aircraft (98 in service) made by Airbus Helicopters to carry out short-term Search and Rescue (SAR) services. The objective is to move to a fleet composed entirely of medium-range SAR rotarcraft, adding helicopters to this category currently made up of 48 Sikorsky MH-60T "Jayhawks". 

The US Coast Guard would like to create a uniform fleet of a minimum of 127 modern aircraft of the MH-60T type. The reason? Abandoning the MH-65 would resolve some difficulties in obtaining components and spare parts due to the cessation of production of the civilian version (H-155) in 2018. This has already led to a decrease in flight hours and the availability of aircraft. 

However, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) noted that the United States Coast Guard currently has 146 mixed MH-65 and MH-60T helicopters at its disposal. The transition to 127 Sikorsky MH-60T "Jayhawks" aircraft would therefore lead to a -13% reduction in the number of rotorcraft in the fleet. "The Coast Guard has not assessed whether the MH-60T helicopter best meets its mission needs as part of its fleet consolidation plans", said GAO.

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AVIONEWS - World Aeronautical Press Agency