The U.S. Coast Guard has been at the forefront of helicopter development since then-Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Ernest J. King issued a 19 February 1943 directive, placing development of the aircraft with the service. In the wake of World War II, the Coast Guard maintained a fleet of rotary-wing aircraft that supported its missions and provided the nation with a maritime aviation search-and-rescue (SAR) component second to none in the world.
Over the past 35 years, the SAR model-based asset mix has acquired a number of additional missions, which include law enforcement and domestic fishing fleet oversight, counter-drug operations, and-most important-homeland security requirements, including interdiction and airborne use of force. Faced with these challenging missions and increasing fiscal constraints, the Coast Guard opted to upgrade existing helicopter airframes, the HH-65 Dolphin and HH-60 Jayhawk.