The U.S. Coast Guard’s HU-25 will fly no more. The service retired its last operational Falcon, also called the Guardian, in a ceremony held Sept. 23, 2014, in Hangar 41 at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas. The commemoration also included a flyover.
“For over 32 years the Falcon has stood the watch. The HU-25 has brought every aircrew home safely.”
In service since February 1982, the HU-25 medium-range fixed-wing surveillance aircraft has been removed from the Coast Guard’s inventory. Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi, which is co-located at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, was the last unit to operate the Falcon – the only jet to serve widely the service’s fleet.
“For over 32 years the Falcon has stood the watch. The HU-25 has brought every air crew home safely,” said Capt. Samuel Creech, commanding officer of Air Station Corpus Christi, at the retirement ceremony.
HU-25s played a significant role in search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, such as migrant and drug interdiction, marine environmental protection, and military readiness. It also was a critical asset during the first Gulf War, monitoring oil slicks in the Persian Gulf caused deliberately by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
“What am I going to miss about the Falcon? Probably everything. It’s been 13 years of blood, sweat, and tears,” said one aviator about the HU-25. U.S. Coast Guard District 8 Public Affairs Detachment created a video and spoke with its aviators.
The Guardian has been replaced by the HC-144A Ocean Sentry medium-range surveillance aircraft. The Ocean Sentry is a more efficient platform, with enhanced capabilities, and able to remain airborne for a greater amount of time. It’s particularly effective at locating objects in large search areas, and vectoring other assets onto these objects for interception and inspection. The radar and imagery sensors represent the latest technologies, and the aircraft’s cargo ramp increases the amount of gear and supplies that can be delivered to a vessel or people in distress.
The Hu-25 was a military derivative of the Dassault Falcon 20 business jet, of which more than 500 were built for worldwide use. Key features of the Coast Guard’s HU-25 included its dash speed and capable mission sensors. It had a wingspan of 53 feet 6 inches and a height of 17 feet 7 inches. Maximum cruise speed at altitude was 420 knots, with a maximum operating speed of .855 Mach; sea level maximum airspeed was 350 knots. A crew of five operated the aircraft.
“Overall, [the Falcon was] a very capable aircraft and I think we’re ending on a high note … I’ll be sad to see her go, but looking forward to the future and the capabilities that will follow her,” another aviator stated.