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Airbus Helicopters HH-65 Dolphin

Short Range Recovery / MEDEVAC / Search & Rescue Helicopter

Airbus Helicopters HH-65 Dolphin

Short Range Recovery / MEDEVAC / Search & Rescue Helicopter


The HH-65 Dolphin search and rescue helicopter is solely in service with the United States Coast Guard.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United States
YEAR: 2002
STATUS: Active, In-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): American Eurocopter; Honeywell; Rockwell Collins - USA / Airbus Helicopters - France
OPERATORS: United States
National flag of United States
Technical Specifications

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Aerospatiale / Eurocopter HH-65C Dolphin model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
POWER: 2 x Turbomeca Arriel 2C2 turboshaft engines producing 853shp and driving a four-bladed main rotor and fenestron-type tail rotor.







nautical miles


HITRON Dolphins:
1 x 7.62mm M240B General Purpose Machine Gun
1 x 12.7mm M107CQ Anti-Materiel Rifle
Variants / Models

• HH-65A - Initial Production Model; fitted with 2 x Allied-Signal LTS-101-750B-2 turboshaft engines; USCG model.
• HH-65B - "Improved" HH-65A; improved avionics suite.
• HH-65C - Based on HH-65A models but fitted with 2 x Turbomeca-brand Arriel 2C2 series engines.
• MH-65C "Cutter Dolphin" - Multi-Mission Cutter Helicopter (MMCH); 1 x 7.62mm door machine gun.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Airbus Helicopters HH-65 Dolphin Short Range Recovery / MEDEVAC / Search & Rescue Helicopter.  Entry last updated on 11/2/2017. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
The HH-65 Dolphin replaced the Sikorsky HH-52A Sea Guards then in service with the United States Coast Guard (USCG). The HH-65 is based on the French-made Eurocopter Dauphin (AS 365N) and carries the same - albeit translated - naming designation and primarily serves as a dedicated rescue helicopter noted by its formal classification of Short Range Recovery (SRR) helicopter. Despite its origins in the French-made Aerospatiale/Eurocopter system, the HH-65 Dolphin is produced in the United States by American Eurocopter, Textron Lycoming (turboshaft engines) and Rockwell Collins (electronics). First flight was achieved in 1980 and the system was introduce in whole by 1985. It maintains an active service standing in the USCG with some 102 total Dolphins making up the Coast Guard HH-65 force.

Design-wise, the HH-65 shares many of the same characteristics of her French-sister, the Eurocopter Dauphin. Her design in characterized by her low-set forward cockpit showcasing a smallish pointed nose assembly and a shrouded Fenestron tail section. The undercarriage is fully retractable and is made up of two single-wheeled main landing gears and a double-wheeled nose gear. Engines are mounted hit and above the crew cabin about midway on the design. The body integrates smoothly into a finely contoured empennage that fits a single vertical tail fin (above the Fenestron shroud) and a horizontal tailpane situated.

Power is derived from twin Turbomeca Arriel 2C2-CG turboshaft engines delivering up to 934 shaft horsepower and driving a corrosion-resistant composite four-bladed main rotor. Maximum speed tops 184 miles per hour with a range of 409 miles and a service ceiling of 15,000 feet. The Dolphin sports an empty weight of approximately 6,333lbs and a maximum take-off weight of up to 9,480lbs. Like the main rotor blades, the fuselage and rotor head are both constructed of corrosion-resistant materials for operations over the salty ocean. In fact, this type of composite construction makes up some 75% of the helicopter design.

Crew accommodations onboard a typical HH-65 model include the pilot, co-pilot, flight mechanic/flight engineer and rescue swimmer. Visibility is rated an excellent thanks to heavy use of glazing in the forward, side and top portions of the cockpit. The flight mechanic is afforded a chair which can slide on rails from one cabin side to the other as needed. The original Dolphin paint design featured a red, white and black scheme but this has since been changed to an overall red (still maintaining the black nose and exhaust sections) for easy visual marking from icebreaker vessels. The change in color has also cut off three days to the overhaul time needed for the aircraft.

The Dolphin maintains a distinct operating capability that allows its autopilot system to bring the aircraft to a hover or fly a designated flight pattern without the need for pilot intervention. This obviously frees up the pilots to other mission matters, particularly when having to visibly scan the surface of the ocean for persons or vessels. Deployment for Dolphins usually originates at land bases but Coast Guard Cutters are designed to take on the type.

The HH-65 has since been spawned into four major versions. The initial production model entered service in 1985 as the HH-65A, fitting twin LTS101-750B-2 series turboshaft engines of 735 shaft horsepower each. This was followed in 2001 by the upgraded HH-65B model with its revised avionics suite, twin global positioning integrated systems and two cockpit-mounted multi-function flat displays. If there was a drawback to the Dolphin system up to now, it lay in her Lycoming-brand engines, forcing the USCG to look through other powerplant options available.

Airbus Helicopters HH-65 Dolphin (Cont'd)

Short Range Recovery / MEDEVAC / Search & Rescue Helicopter

Airbus Helicopters HH-65 Dolphin (Cont'd)

Short Range Recovery / MEDEVAC / Search & Rescue Helicopter

The HH-65C's were essentially A and B production models fitted with twin the French-made Turbomeca Arriel 2C2-CG turboshaft engines of 934 shaft horsepower each. These powerplants were already proven components of the Eurocopter EC155 series and marked an improvement in both efficiency and reliability over the original set of American-made Lycoming (now Honeywell) LTS101-750B-2 turboshafts. Other changes to this model included new gearboxes for main rotor and tail, an 11-blade Fenestron tail rotor, an increase to its MTOW (Maximum Take-Off Weight) and a lengthened nose of new equipment. The first post-conversion C-models were made available in late 2004. A- and B-model Dolphins were retrofitted with the new Turbomeca Arriel 2C2-CG turboshafts and brought up to C-model standard, taking on the designation of HH-65C as well.

The MH-65C is a derivative of the HH-61C with an improved transmission, digital autopilot, revised avionics, increase fuel capacity, increased MTOW and a new 10-bladed tail rotor featuring noise reduction. The MH-65C has been used by the US Coast Guard's Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) "Force from Above" armed helicopters. Based out of Jacksonville and operating with the Department of Homeland Security, these Dolphins are armed aircraft charged with conducting "Airborne Use of Force" sorties in high drug trafficking areas as well as to counter general security threats in American waters. To compliment this new-found role, the MH-65C's utilized by HITRON field a 7.62mm M240B general purpose machine gun and a 12.7mm Barrett M107CQ anti-materiel rifle. HITRON Dolphins are also used to guide their accompanying "Over The Horizon Cutter Boats" (OTHCB) to the scene of a given crime for possible interception and/or apprehension. MH-65C "HITRON" Dolphins began operations in 2008.

Other Dolphin mission parameters include working in conjunction with icebreakers, environmental management and special passenger transport.

As of this writing, the United States Coast Guard is the sole operator of the HH-65 Dolphin series. HH-65's are stationed in Alabama, New Jersey, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Texas, California, Alaska, Louisiana, Oregon, Washington, Georgia, Michigan and Florida covering some 17 total cities within these states. The HH-65 Dolphin is one of the few American operational helicopters to make use of the French-designed Fenestron shrouded tail rotors. This shrouded style of tail rotor is proven to provide better stability when encountering crosswinds while using less power when in a hover. On the other hand, Fenestron tail rotors have proven expensive and heavier than traditional open-mounts while at the same time using more fuel.

Due to its high use of composite materials throughout its construction, the HH-65 sometimes takes on the nicknames of "Tupperwolf" or "Plastic Puppy".


In the Cockpit

Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 150mph
Lo: 75mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (137mph).

Graph average of 112.5 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Aerospatiale / Eurocopter HH-65C Dolphin's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production (102)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

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