The U.S. Coast Guard has the largest Airbus Helicopter fleet in government service today, flying 101 MH-65 Dolphin multi-mission helicopters based at 18 Coast Guard Air Stations throughout the continental United States, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. The traditional role of this twin-engine aircraft – which is a version of the AS365 N3+ – has been patrol missions and search and rescue flights. Its duties have subsequently been expanded to include the use of armed Dolphin versions for the protection of the U.S. Capital and for the interception/interdiction of vessels at sea, including the famous HITRON mission.
Search and rescue remains one of the key duties for the MH-65 fleet. Dolphins were used extensively in lifesaving operations after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, and Hurricanes Harvey and Maria in 2017. These aircraft are routinely deployed on missions from sea level to high-altitude mountainous terrain.
The MH-65 Dolphin is operated by the U.S. Coast Guard in support of homeland security patrols, cargo, drug interdiction and search and rescue missions. Recognizable by its Fenestron tail rotor, the MH-65 can complete an unaided approach to water and hover 50 feet above an object, or automatically fly search patterns, allowing a flight crew to engage in other tasks. To date, the MH-65 fleet has accumulated more than 1.5 million flight hours.
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