The U.S. Coast Guard accepted its 14th C-130J Super Hercules long-range surveillance aircraft from Lockheed Martin Aeronautics’ Marietta, Georgia, facility on April 27.
The aircraft, CGNR 2014, was delivered in its baseline configuration and will be used for component certification testing before it is inducted into the Minotaur mission system suite modification program at L3Harris ISR Systems in Waco, Texas, on May 15.
The modification program will outfit the aircraft with Minotaur mission system software and Coast Guard-specific integrated radar, sensors and communication systems in a process called missionization, after which the aircraft will be redesignated as an HC-130J.
A Block 8.1 upgrade adding advanced capabilities including enhanced inter-communication systems, enhanced approach and landing systems, expanded diagnostics, civil GPS and additional covert lighting will also be completed. The C-130J airframe manufacturer, Lockheed Martin is currently contracted to deliver a minimum of six Block 8.1 upgrade kits to the Coast Guard and the first HC-130J aircraft outfitted with the Block 8.1 upgrade was delivered earlier this year.
The Coast Guard is acquiring a fleet of 22 new, fully missionized HC-130J Super Hercules aircraft to replace its older HC-130Hs.
The Coast Guard currently has 17 HC-130J aircraft in either operational use or active production. In addition to continued Minotaur missionization efforts on new aircraft, the service has plans to complete the block upgrade on all its HC-130J aircraft. Two additional C-130Js are under construction, with delivery by 2023. Upon delivery to the Coast Guard, the missionization of these aircraft will take an additional year.
The service’s fleet of HC-130Js is the Department of Homeland Security’s largest airlift asset and 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.