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Airbus Helicopters Inc. saluted the U.S. Coast Guard on March 8 for its recent milestone achievement of reaching 1.5 million flight hours with the service’s fleet of MH-65 Dolphin patrol and search-and-rescue helicopters.
From patrolling the skies over Lake Michigan to performing life-saving rescues in the Gulf of Mexico, the Coast Guard’s MH-65 Dolphin has become the most recognizable search and rescue aircraft in the world.
“This is an enormous accomplishment for the U.S. Coast Guard, and for Airbus,” said Chris Emerson, president of Airbus Helicopters Inc. “We are proud of the great work the men and women of the Coast Guard perform with these aircraft. They have saved countless lives and guarded our nation’s borders and ports. We look forward to working with the Coast Guard for years to come, supporting their missions by keeping this workhorse helicopter flying and serving the American people.”
The Coast Guard selected the Dolphin, based on the Airbus AS365 Dauphin product family, in 1979 as its new short-range recovery air-sea rescue helicopter replacing the HH-52A Sea Guard. The aircraft is certified for operation in all-weather and night operations, except icing conditions.
Airbus delivered the first Dolphin in 1984. The fleet of 100 helicopters has played a critical role for the Coast Guard, from performing lifesaving missions after Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters to executing successful rescues at sea and in high-altitude mountainous terrain.
In addition to serving at Coast Guard Air Stations throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, the MH-65 is the primary aircraft used aboard sea-going cutters during deployments. The Coast Guard’s Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron in Florida also uses the helicopters for counter-narcotics missions in high-threat drug trafficking areas.
The MH-65 fleet is expected to remain in service through 2035. New engines were installed on the Dolphin fleet in 2007, which significantly enhanced the aircraft’s power and mission capabilities. The Coast Guard is expected to introduce the next configuration of the Dolphin, which will include an all-glass cockpit and advanced navigation capabilities, in 2018.