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New Era of USCG Airborne Use of Force Capability Begins

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LTGunner:
On February 1st, 2008, The USCG will enter a new era of Airborne Use of Force Capability

The newly established Atlantic Area Deployment Center will replace the Coast Guard’s Helicopter Interdiction Squadron (HITRON), complete with Airborne Use of Force (AUF)-capable aircraft and crews. The HITRON initiative to lease eight MH-68 helicopters was developed as a bridging strategy to bolster the Coast Guard's illegal drug interdiction capability and support Port, Waterways and Costal Security missions until the service could arm its organic helicopter fleet.  The lease on the eight MH-68s ends 31 January 2008. 

On February 1st, 2008, the Coast Guard plans to complete this strategic plan by terminating HITRON and activating the Atlantic Area Deployment Center. More specifically, this action will replace the eight leased HITRON MH-68 helicopters with ten Coast Guard Airborne Use of Force (AUF) equipped, re-engined MH-65C helicopters at the Jacksonville, Florida facility.

The USCG’s Airborne Use of Force (AUF) capability was developed just under ten years ago.   In 1998, the Coast Guard estimated that it was stopping less than ten percent of the drugs entering the United States via the sea.   Spurred by these estimates, Admiral James Loy, then Commandant, directed the Coast Guard to develop a plan to counter the go-fast threat.   Starting in late 1998, ten volunteers pioneered and implemented new tactics to stop the drug-laden go-fasts and were known as Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron Ten, for the six pilots and four Aviation Gunners assigned to the “unit."   During this early proof of concept phase, HITRON intercepted and stopped all five go-fasts encountered.  The results were 2,640 pounds of cocaine, and 7,000 pounds of marijuana seized and 17 smugglers arrested.  This 100% success rate represented a dramatic increase in go-fast seizures, and resulted in a cultural change for Coast Guard aviation.   Further, it set the stage for enhanced future maritime drug interdiction efforts.   Due to their success during the Operational, Test, and Evaluation (OT&E), the HITRON program was validated and designated a permanent Coast Guard unit.   ( Source: http://www.uscg.mil/lantarea/HITRON/hitron10%20where%20it%20begins.htm )



Beginning in March 1999, the Coast Guard deployed a pair of armed MH-90s for operations from USCG Medium Endurance Cutters. Following a six-month operational evaluation, the original two MH-90s were returned to the factory for refit and upgrades. At that time, two additional MH-90s were leased by the USCG for continued evaluation. The MH-90s are equipped with a variety of lethal and non-lethal weapons. The main armament of the MH-90s consists of a M240G machine gun coupled with a 50-caliber sniper rifle equipped with a laser sight. The machine gun's primary purpose is to fire warning shots across the path of fleeing go-fasts, while the sniper rifle is used to selectively target and disable the engines of the go-fasts as necessary. Other non-lethal armament consists of stun grenades and entangling nets among other pieces of equipment.

LTGunner:
AUF Aircraft 1999- 2000: MH-90 Enforcer



The MH-90 Enforcer underwent evaluation as part of the USCG's experiment with armed helicopters. With its NOTAR (No Tail Rotor) design, is very easy to operate from the small flight decks of the Medium Endurance Cutters. The MH-90 is based on the McDonnell Douglas twin-turbine MD 900 Explorer, modified for air-sea rescue and police work. With the largest functional cabin in its light-twin class, the MD Explorer’s cabin size equals that of medium-twin class helicopters. Integrated optional avionic systems are easily accessible. Large 52-inch (1.32 m) cabin door openings on both sides of aircraft allow unrestricted ingress/egress.

Beginning in March 1999, the Coast Guard deployed a pair of armed MH-90s for operations from USCG Medium Endurance Cutters. Following a six-month operational evaluation, the original two MH-90s were returned to the factory for refit and upgrades. At that time, two additional MH-90s were leased by the USCG for continued evaluation. The MH-90s are equipped with a variety of lethal and non-lethal weapons. The main armament of the MH-90s consists of a M240G machine gun coupled with a 50-caliber sniper rifle equipped with a laser sight. The machine gun's primary purpose is to fire warning shots across the path of fleeing go-fasts, while the sniper rifle is used to selectively target and disable the engines of the go-fasts as necessary. Other non-lethal armament consists of stun grenades and entangling nets among other pieces of equipment.

The MH-90s are also equipped with armor plating, a camera system mounted on a gyro-stablilzed fitting, a night-vision compatible ****pit, a GPS-based navigation system, and Forward-looking InfraRed (FLIR). In addition, a deployable flotation system has been fitted due to the units operations over open water. The communications suite of the MH-90 includes HF/VHF/UHF radios capable of operating in both the secure and clear modes.

The U. S. Coast Guard announced 15 March 2000 the successful completion of the final evaluation of its latest tactic in the war on drugs: the airborne and high-speed smallboat use of force against narco-smugglers in "go-fast" boats. The Coast Guard created "Operation New Frontier" (first announced in September 1999) to employ the use of armed helicopters and high-speed smallboats to stop small, high-speed smuggling vessels, known as "go-fasts," which carry narcotics bound for the United States. Before Operation New Frontier, law enforcement officials said the Coast Guard was only able to stop one in 10 go-fasts because it was simply being outrun by the bad guys.

Source & Additional Info: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/mh-90.htm

LTGunner:
AUF Aircraft 2000-2008: MH-68A Stingray
(A.K.A. MH-68 Mako / Agusta A109E)



The MH-68A Stingray entered service with the US Coast Guard in September 2000. The MH-68A is a version of the Agusta A109E "Power" commercial aircraft. Two MH-68s were procurred for use with Helicopter Interdiction Squadron Ten (HITRON Ten), with an option for an additional six if the platform met Coast Guard requirements under the Airborne Use of Force (AUF) program. Along with the MH-90, the MH-68s will equip HITRON Ten which is based out of Jacksonville, Florida. The MH-68s will operate from USCG Medium-Endurance cutters in support of the USCG's counter-narcotics mission.

The MH-68A is an all-weather, short-range, interdiction helicopter, equipped with the latest navigation, communication, and avionics equipment. This is the first Agusta product in service with any component of the US government. As with the MH-90 Explorer, the MH-68 will be armed with various lethal and non-lethal weapons, including the M240G machine gun and a 50-caliber sniper rifle with a laser sight. Other weapons such as stun grenades and entanglement nets will be used as needed. The MH-68 is equipped with a Forward-looking InfraRed (FLIR) system for night operations, along with a night-vsion compatible ****pit. It carries an avionics suite similar to that of other Coast Guard helicopters, including HF/VHF/UHF radios capable of clear and encrypted voice transmission and GPS receivers connected to the autopilot.

The U.S. Coast Guard's first patrols in 2002 using tough new tactics employing armed MH-68s, a dedicated version of the twin-engine Agusta A109 Power helicopter, scored a perfect three busts in three attempts against drug-laden speedboats bound for U.S. shores. The U.S. Coast Guard’s three interdictions netted a combined total of more than 13,000 pounds of cocaine along with several arrests.

Present operational doctrine authorises MH-68 crews to disable the engines through pinpoint rifle fire of suspected vessels that fail to halt following several warnings. These include verbal demands to do so transmitted via loudspeaker, and tracer fire across the vessel’s bow.

Source & Additional Info: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/mh-68.htm

LTGunner:
AUF Aircraft 2008: HH-65/MH-65 B/C Multi-Mission Cutter Helicopter



Speed: 160 kts
Range: 400 NM
Endurance: 4 Hours
Crew: 2 (O), 1 (E)
Pax: 3-4 (Armed) 4 (Unarmed)
Sensors: Radar, EO/IR
Armament: .50 Cal Sniper, M242 .60Cal MG
Cost per unit: $8.8 million
Quantity: 102


The MCH is an extremely agile and sophisticated aircraft that is dramatically improved through
the revised Deepwater implementation plan. The MCH power plant is upgraded with Turbomeca
2C2 turbines providing substantial power, flight control and flight safety improvements. The MCH
will receive enhanced radar and optical sensors and will share a Common Operational
Picture/MDA data exchange capability. These capabilities will be integrated with an improved
avionics suite. The MCH will receive CBR D&D capabilities that will allow for standoff detection
and crew protection capability. Other improvements include strengthened landing gear, a reel in
deck landing system for heavy seas, and a new 10-bladed tail rotor and drive shaft that will allow
the HH-65 to to move horizontally to the left or right at 70 knots. The new designation following
these upgrades will be MH-65C.
The MCH project also adds new communications systems –such as the AN/ARC-210 military
satellite communications radio, AN/ARC-220 high frequency Automatic Link Establishment (ALE)
radio, and the RT5000 multi-band radio, which connects an aircrew with federal, state & local law
enforcement agencies and emergency services. The MCHs also will have a variety of navigation
and mission enhancements, such as a ring laser gyroscope with integrated Global Positioning
System, an inertial navigation system and a DF-430 direction finding system.
The MCHs will have weapons and self defense equipment, provided in AUF packages. The A-kit
includes night vision goggle/infrared-compatible formation flying lights and ****pit displays, and
an upgraded hailing system, mounts and internal stowage for ammunition and weapons. The
AUF B-kit adds ballistic armor for aircrew protection, one M240 7.62mm general purpose
machine gun and one RC50 .50 cal. precision rifle. The B-kit also provides a pilot’s head-up
display, night vision optics and a Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) sensor.
The MCH will additionally provide a Vertical Insertion and Vertical Delivery (VI/VDEL) capability –
the ability to deliver a 3-person interagency response team 50NM from shore or a Coast Guard
flight deck-equipped cutter.

Following the end of the MH-68A lease, 10 AUF-B equipped MH-65Cs will take over the
HITRON’s role. Six MH-65Cs will provide initial operational capability, with four others to be
transitioned later.

Source: http://www.monitoringtimes.com/USCG_Asset_Guide_January_2008.pdf

LTGunner:
AUF Weapons: M240B Machine Gun (MG)



The M240 was adopted by the U.S. Military following a world-wide competition for a reliable 7.62 mm machine gun for use as a coaxial weapon for armored vehicle applications. The Coaxial version of the famous Belgian MAG 58, produced by FN Herstal, won this competition. The demonstrated reliability of this weapon, 26,000 Mean Rounds Between Failure (MRBF), makes it the world's most reliable machine gun. As a result of the outstanding performance of this weapon, vehicle, aviation, and infantry variants are now in use by the U. S. Military. The US variants are produced by FN Manufacturing, a US subsidiary of FN Herstal S.A.

The M240B is used for Warning Fire:

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