The U.S. Coast Guard transferred an HC-130J Super Hercules long range surveillance aircraft, CGNR-2009, to Air Station Kodiak, Alaska, Aug. 21.
The aircraft, originally stationed at Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, is the first of five HC-130Js that will replace the five HC-130H aircraft currently stationed at Kodiak.
Since 1959, the U.S. Coast Guard has executed many of its aviation missions with C-130 variants, the newest being the HC-130J. The new HC-130J features more advanced engines and propellers, which provide a 20 percent increase in speed and altitude, and a 40 percent increase in range over the HC-130H Hercules model.
Another notable difference is the liquid oxygen (LOX) system which will allow the crew to fly at higher altitudes, providing a better vantage point for many missions. These aircraft are also outfitted with the Minotaur Mission System Suite, which provides increased capabilities for use of the sensors, radar and intelligence-gathering equipment.
These improvements enable the Coast Guard to better respond to mariners in peril by improving response times, extending time on scene for searching, law enforcement patrols, and increasing effectiveness and versatility in Alaska’s challenging weather and terrain. A key feature of the HC-130J includes the ability to execute precision air-delivery drops of survival gear to mariners at night, in zero-visibility, which is something its predecessor could not do.
Like its predecessor, the HC-130J is specifically modified for Coast Guard operations to include sea search radar, forward-looking infrared sensors, an enhanced communications suite and air-deliverable life rafts and survival kits.
“The Coast Guard recognizes the strategic and economic importance of Alaska. We have always been an enthusiastic partner with the state, protecting the maritime public and safeguarding the environment,” said Capt. B.E. Dailey, Air Station Kodiak commanding officer. “This new aircraft, with its increased capabilities, represents the Coast Guard’s continued commitment to the state and will greatly improve our ability to respond while providing an additional margin of safety for our crews.”
The first phase of facilities improvements to accommodate the new aircraft – building LOX storage and service facilities – is underway, with completion planned later this year. Additional facilities improvements will begin this fall and run through October 2019.
Four additional HC-130Js are scheduled to arrive at Kodiak in 2019. The incoming HC-130s will join Kodiak’s current fleet of six MH-60s and four MH-65s. As the HC-130Js deploy to Kodiak, the five HC-130Hs will be removed. Those outgoing aircraft will be used to fill HC-130H long range surveillance fleet gaps or disposed of once all usable parts are salvaged to support the remaining HC-130H and HC-130J fleet.
The Coast Guard utilizes the C-130 platform for a variety of missions including search and rescue, long-range maritime patrol, enforcement of laws and treaties, illegal drug interdiction, marine environmental protection, military readiness and International Ice Patrol missions, as well as cargo and personnel transport.
Air Station Kodiak is the second Coast Guard air station to employ the latest C-130 variation since Lockheed Martin delivered the first Coast Guard HC-130J in 2003. Air Station Kodiak is excited to take advantage of this cutting-edge search and rescue platform in the Coast Guard’s harshest operating environment.