Lockheed Martin has delivered the first HC-130J Super Hercules aircraft outfitted with the Block 8.1 upgrade to the U.S. Coast Guard, the company announced.
This upgrade was installed on a previously delivered HC-130J at the Lockheed Martin facility in Greenville, South Carolina.
The aircraft recently completed initial operational testing and will be placed into operational service soon. The completion of operational testing of the aircraft was officially announced at a ceremony on Jan. 31 at the Coast Guard Aviation Logistics Center in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.
Lockheed Martin is currently contracted to deliver a minimum of six Block 8.1 upgrade kits to the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard HC-130J Block 8.1 upgrade adds following new and advanced capabilities:
• A new flight management system that complies with CNS/ATM mandates, and includes vertical navigation with coupled autothrottle
• Civil GPS
• Ground power modes
• Updated Identification Friend or Foe
• CNS/ATM Data Link
• Enhanced inter-communication system
• Enhanced approach and landing systems
• Expanded diagnostics
• Improved PA system
• Additional covert lighting
• IAMSAR compliant search pattern programming
“The U.S. Coast Guard has relied on its Hercules fleet for more than 60 years to support complicated missions that ensure our nation’s safety and security,” said Peter London, director of Tactical Airlift Programs for Lockheed Martin’s Air Mobility & Maritime Missions line of business. “The advanced features and purpose-built design enhancements found in the Block 8.1 upgrade ensure that Coast Guard crews will rely on the HC-130J for mission support for many more decades to come.”
The Coast Guard currently operates 11 HC-130Js as part of its long-range surveillance aircraft fleet. In addition to the Block 8.1 upgrade, the Coast Guard is integrating Minotaur mission system architecture into its fixed-wing aircraft. Two C-130Js are undergoing missionization with delivery expected in February and July 2020. Three additional C-130Js are under construction, with delivery in 2020 and 2023. Upon delivery to the Coast Guard, missionization of these aircraft will take an additional year.
The Coast Guard’s HC-130J Super Hercules carries out many Coast Guard missions, including search and rescue, drug and migrant interdiction, cargo and personnel transport, and maritime stewardship. The aircraft is capable of serving as an on-scene command and control platform or as a surveillance platform with the means to detect, classify and identify objects and share that information with operational forces.
The Coast Guard is acquiring a fleet of 22 new, fully missionized HC-130J aircraft to replace its older HC-130Hs.