HOMELAND SECURITY

Coast Guard Turns Navy Cast-Offs Into New Aircraft

1/1/2011
By Eric Beidel
One military service’s trash is another’s treasure.

The Coast Guard is using Navy scraps to replace helicopters it has lost in crashes during 2010.

 “We’ve lost two H-60s over the last year and they’re basically taking Navy frames that were sitting around and turning them into brand new Coast Guard helicopters,” the service’s commandant Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr. told National Defense in a recent interview.

The service lost a helicopter in a crash in Utah’s Uinta Mountains last spring. Heavy wind and snow caused the aircraft to slam into trees. Another helicopter during the summer went down in waters near James Island, Wash., killing three of its four crewmembers. It clipped power lines as it headed up the coast to Sitka, Alaska.

Through a program called “Sundown,” the Coast Guard can use old Navy airframes to fill capability gaps created by crashes. Funding has been made available to replace the helicopter lost in the Utah mountains. It will cost about $18 million to covert an unused Navy SH-60F to a Coast Guard MH-60T, said Cmdr. Glynn Smith, a spokesman for Papp. It would cost the service about $40 million to buy a new one, Smith added.

The service is still trying to obtain funding to replace the helicopter lost in the fatal wreck off the Washington coast.

Topics: Homeland Security, Air Transportation, Disaster Response

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