The HU-25 Falcon Jet is a medium-range surveillance fixed-wing aircraft that is used to perform search and rescue, enforcement of laws and treaties including illegal drug interdiction, marine environmental protection, and military readiness. This twin-engine turbofan jet, deliveries of which were completed in 1983, is one of the few aircraft flown by the military services that is built by a foreign company, Dassault-Breguet of France. It is 56.25 feet in length, 17.6 feet in height, and has a crew of five. Its ceiling at Mach .855 is 42,000 feet and it flies at 350 knots at sea level and 380 knots at 20,000 feet.
The Falcon's ability to operate from sea level to altitudes of 42,000 feet makes it suitable for Coast Guard's missions of search and rescue, drug interdiction and marine law enforcement. Key features include computer controlled air navigation system, surveillance system operators console, surveillance camera and avionics adapted for oil pollution overflight detection.
The HU-25A, HU-25B, and HU-25C are three variants of the HU-25; the primary difference is in the installed sensor package. Variants include the Air Eye (HU-25B) and Nightstalker (HU-25C). Air Eye is equipped with the APG-66 radar and Forward Looking Infrared Radar (FLIR). The HU-25B is also equipped with an air eye avionics package and wing pads carrying side-looking radar (SALR).
Forty-one HU-25, medium range surveillance fan jets replaced the HU-16E Albatross and the C-131A Samaritan prop driven aircraft in the Coast Guard aviation fleet. The Guardian's modern technology and design enhances it's performance as the services first multi-mission jet. It is twice as fast as previous Coast Guard fixed wingaircraft and can get to the scene quickly to perform its role.
The HU-25A can operate from sea level to an altitude of 42,000feet at dash speed, an important capability for the Coast Guard missions of search and rescue, enforcement of laws and treaties, including illegal drug interdiction, marine environmental protection and military readiness.
The airframes were assembled in Little Rock, Arkansas at Falcon Jet Corporation, a subsidiary of Dassault-Brequet Aviation. The acrylic search window, drop hatch for delivery of emergency equipment to vessels, and other fuselage modifications unique to Coast Guard aircraft were made at Grumman Aircraft Corporation in New York. The Garrett turbo fan engines were manufactured in Phoenix, Arizona specifically for the aircraft's long flights. The computer controlled air navigation system was built by Rockwell International, Collins Avionics group in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The Guardian has surveillance system operators (SSO) console including Texas Instruments radar with 160-mile range, manufactured in Dallas, Texas.
The fleet, although reduced in size, is still around and will be so for many years to come. At headquarters, all endeavors for the HU-25 are targeting keeping the aircraft around until at least 2010. This is the plan for all CG aircraft systems for now. With the C+ upgrade completed, the focus is on improving the sensors of the aircraft, and trying to get new avionics systems and engines.
In 1997 the Coast Guard initiated a study to determine the mission profile of the HU-25. The reason for this study is a part of continuing efforts to extend the service life of the HU-25. Dassault-Falcon Jet developed a program whereby Falcon 20's (the HU-25 is really a Falcon 20G) can have its' service life extended from 20,000 flights and 30,000 landings to 40,000 flights and 60,000 landings. The aircraft would first undergo a Major Corrosion Inspection and then periodic additional inspections in critical areas to assure the airplane can continue to fly. To put this in perspective, the Coast Guard has been operating the HU-25 since 1982 and by 1997 the aircraft with the highest time was only about halfway through its initial service life. Civilian Falcon aircraft track flights, while the Coast Guard has always tracked only hours and landings. Pressurization cycles of the fuselage are the most critical factor for the HU-25.
The Aireye Upgrade Program, to upgrade the sensor capability on HU-25B model aircraft, was delayed due to funding and technical problems. The project goal was to capture the analog output of the HU-25B sensors, convert it to a digital signal, and be able to process the data on a computer. The hardware for the first installation was installed on CG 2118 in Kalispell, Montana. Software integration problems were the driving force in the delay of the program.
By 1997 a Coast Guard study was underway to determine the direction for SATCOM on all CG platforms. MILSATCOM access is extremely limited and may not be suitable for all Coast Guard requirements. Someday some kind of SATCOM will be a standard feature on all HU-25's. In addition to the SATCOM, HU-25C's got an upgrade to the APG-66 Radar. The improvement replaced the existing unsupportable ICU with a Signal Data Processor. The system weighs 79 lbs less, uses 30% less power, and requires 40% less cooling. This led to a higher MTBF for the system. The SDP was prototyped in March 1997, and the remainder of the aircraft were accomplished at Air Station Miami.
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