The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW


HH-60J Sea Hawk / "Jayhawk"
MH-60J Sea Hawk / "Jayhawk"

The HH-60J Sea Hawk, informally known as the "Jayhawk," is a medium-range recovery helicopter. The HH-60J is used to perform search and rescue, law enforcement, military readiness, and marine environmental protection missions. The aircraft can also be fitted with the US Coast Guard's Airborne Use of Force (AUF) package, including an M240 machine gun and Robar RC-50 precision rifle (subsequently replaced with an M107 rifle) for firing warning and disabling shots, and armor to protect the aircrew from small arms fire. When fitted with the AUF package, the aircraft is designated as the MH-60J.

The HH-60J's power is provided by the twin T700-GE-401C General Electric turbine engines, each rated at 1,662 shaft horsepower, giving the aircraft a maximum takeoff weight of 21,884 pounds and enabling a cargo sling load of 6,000 pounds. The HH-60J can fly 300 miles offshore, remain on-scene for 45 minutes, recover 6 survivors, and return with fuel reserves. Normal cruising speeds of 135-140 knots can be increased to a "dash" speed of 180 knots when necessary. The H-60 will fly comfortably at 140 knots for 6-7 hours. The H-60 family can not perform water landings, as the HH-3F, which the HH-60J replaced, had been capable of.

The HH-60J's state-of-the art radar, radio, and navigation equipment enables the helicopter to carry out the Coast Guard's search and rescue, law enforcement, military readiness, and marine environmental protection missions efficiently and effectively. The HH-60J uses the NAVSTAR Global Positioning System as its primary long range navigational aid. On board the HH-60J, the Collins RCVR-3A radio simultaneously receives information from 4 of the system's 18 worldwide satellites and converts it into latitude fixes, pinpointing the helicopter's position.

Though normally stationed ashore, the HH-60J can be carried aboard 270-foot WMEC and 378-foot WHEC Coast Guard Cutters. These cutters are capable of refueling and supporting the helicopter for the duration of a cutter patrol. They assist in the missions of search and rescue, enforcement of laws and treaties including drug interdiction, marine environmental protection, and military readiness.

In 1986, the HH-60J was selected to replace the aging HH-3F "Pelican" as the Coast Guard's medium range helicopter, which had been in service for over 20 years by that point. The HH-60J was similar to the HH-3F in many ways, and the assigned missions of the 2 helicopters were the same. However, the HH-60J had numerous upgrades including a state of the art electronics package. The HH-60J was lighter, faster and its engines had more power than the holder HH-3F.

Implementation of the HH-60J began in March 1990 with the delivery of the first airframe to NAS Patuxent River, Maryland for developmental testing. ATC Mobile, Alabama was the first Cost Guard unit to fly the aircraft as instructor pilots prepared for pilot training in March 1991. Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City was the first operational unit with the HH-60J. The United States Coast Guard subsequently built a fleet of 42 medium-range Sikorsky HH-60J helicopters. Circa 2000, there were some 35 still in active service, with the other 7 in reserve or storage. Aircraft were deployed to ATC Mobile, Alabama; CGAS Kodiak, Alaska; CGAS Sitka, Alaska; CGAS San Diego, California; CGAS Clearwater, Florida; CGAS Cape Cod, Massachusetts; CGAS Elizabeth City, North Carolina; and CGAS Astoria, Oregon.

The Coast Guard found its role in national security stepped up following the events of 11 September 2001. With NAVAIR help, it prepared in 2003 for heavier homeland security responsibilities. The key to expanding the Coast Guard's role in maritime law enforcement was the arming of its inventory of HH-65 Dolphin and HH-60J Jayhawk helicopters. The first step in the process was certification of both airframes for the M240D machine gun. A team of mechanical engineers at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division agreed to design a gun mount specifically for the Coast Guard's needs. M240 machine gun mounts were designed and installed on an HH-65B Dolphin and an HH-60J Jayhawk.

NSWC Crane's work on the HH-60J was less complicated because mount positions and other data from the Navy HH-60H, an identical airframe, were already available. Navy and Coast Guard pilots and gunners worked side-by-side during all aspects of the ground and flight tests. NAVAIR testing on the HH-60J and the HH-65B, including ground fit checks, ground test firing, captive-carriage-of-fire check flights, and live-fire flight tests, were successfully completed in mid-February 2003. NAVAIR also assisted in adding a flashing blue police-type light and white night-lighting on the aircraft to illuminate the Coast Guard logo. As of March 2003, it was expected that as many as 170 Coast Guard helicopters could receive the gun mounts, which would be a significant step toward enhancing drug interdiction and port security operations. When fitted with the mounts, part of what became the Coast Guard's Airborne Use of Force (AUF) package, the helicopters switched from HH- types to MH- types (HH-60J to MH-60J for instance), indicating their new mission responsibilities.

The HH-60Js, introduced in the mid-1990s, were equipped with avionics hardware that was becoming obsolete and increasingly unsupportable a decade later due to a lack of production components and discontinued manufacturing sources. Equipment software support for existing aircraft systems were no longer economical to maintain or available. Over the years, the HH-60J's avionics subsystems, auto-pilot, communications, navigation equipment, and flight instruments, were plagued by a rapid increase in equipment failure.

As a result, the United States Coast Guard planned to upgrade and modernize its existing Sikorsky HH-60J helicopter fleet to meet its expanded Homeland Defense responsibilities, according to the revised Deepwater Implementation Plan presented to Congress in April 2005. Deepwater outlined the USCG's long-range acquisition strategy across its entire inventory of cutters and aircraft to provide improved systems for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) and innovative logistics support.

An earlier version of Deepwater called for the purchase of a new and smaller aircraft to replace the HH-60J, as the Coast Guard's Medium Range Recovery (MRR) Helicopter. In light of the USCG's post 9-11 requirements, Deepwater passed on the new aircraft and called for upgrading the existing HH-60J helicopter. The Coast Guard began converting its 42 in-service HH-60J aircraft to MH-60Ts in January 2007.

Join the mailing list

One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 07-07-2011 02:33:04 ZULU