The U.S. Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk service life extension program (SLEP) received approval from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Feb. 20 to proceed to the next acquisition phase.
This will allow the program to move forward with analyzing its options for keeping the service’s medium range recovery helicopter fleet operational through the mid-2030s.
The Coast Guard’s H-60 helicopters have been in service since 1990. The service established a program in 2002 to upgrade them to address obsolescence issues and outfit the helicopters with equipment to better meet operational needs. That program, which transitioned to sustainment in 2016, also included work to extend the helicopters’ service lives for an additional 10,000 flight hours to keep the MH-60T Jayhawk in service through 2027.
The planned SLEP will keep the helicopters in service through the eventual planned replacement of the MH-60T fleet alongside the Defense Department’s Future Vertical Lift initiative. This effort will provide new platforms to improve the speed, range, refueling and interoperability capabilities across the military services and U.S. Special Operations Command.
The Coast Guard is examining two courses of action for the service life extension work. The first is to replace the existing fleet with low-flight-hour Navy HH-60H and SH-60F Seahawk hulls after structurally converting them into the MH-60T Jayhawk configuration. Six of the Coast Guard’s 45 MH-60Ts began as Navy SH-60Fs and entered the fleet through this process.
The second option is to replace parts in the Coast Guard’s current MH-60Ts to extend each helicopter’s service life by another 10,000 flight hours. All work is currently planned to take place at the Aviation Logistics Center (ALC) in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.
To determine the best course of action, the Coast Guard will convert Navy helicopters to MH-60Ts at the Coast Guard Aviation Logistics Center in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. In addition, the Coast Guard will conduct an engineering analysis to determine the feasibility of extending the service life of the existing aircraft. Information from the conversions and the engineering study will be combined in an alternatives analysis to determine how best to proceed.