The Coast Guard’s MH-65 helicopter program has been approved to enter full-rate production to the “E” configuration, which will include avionics upgrades for the fleet of 98 aircraft that will run concurrently with a service life extension program (SLEP) for the aircraft.

Work on the MH-65E will be performed by the Coast Guard Aviation Logistics Center in Elizabeth City, N.C., which will produce 22 aircraft annually with completion due in fiscal year 2024.

The avionics upgrades for the short-range helicopters, which were originally supplied by Airbus Group, include reliability and capability improvements for the Automatic Flight Control System, installation of a digital cockpit display system and upgraded digital weather and surface search radar, integration of a C4ISR suite, and modernized digital flight deck with Common Avionics Architecture System that is also on the service’s H-60 medium-range helicopters and similar Defense Department aircraft.

Under the SLEP, the Coast Guard is replacing five major structure components, including the nine-degree frame, canopy, center console floor assembly, floorboards and side panels. The changes will increase the service-life of the aircraft by 10,000 flight hours.