The U.S. Coast Guard has ordered three more Lockheed Martin HC-130J Super Hercules long-range surveillance aircraft, taking its total to nine of 22 planned to be acquired by 2027.

The $218 million contract, awarded via the Five-Year Options Contract under which the U.S. Air Force procures C-130Js, includes two mission systems for installation in the HC-130Js. The third mission system is planned to be purchased in fiscal 2013.

Missionization of the HC-130J requires a nine-month refit, according to the Coast Guard. The three long-range maritime patrol aircraft are to be delivered early in 2016 and based at Barbers Point, Hawaii, joining the first six HC-130Js based at Elizabeth City, N.C.

The HC-130Js are gradually replacing the Coast Guard’s fleet of HC-130Hs, 23 of which are in service. The H models are being upgraded and some will get new center wing boxes to extend their service life until fully replaced by the HC-130J in 2027.

HC-130H upgrades include a Selex SeaSpray 7500E surface search radar, Rockwell Collins glass cockpit and new avionics required for operation in civil airspace.

The HC-130J mission system, installed by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Global Sustainment in Greenville, S.C., includes the Elta EL/M-2022 radar, FLIR Systems Star Safire III electro-optical/infrared sensor and a flight-deck mission operator’s station.

The Coast Guard says the mission suite is comparable in capability to the palletized system in 17 HC-144A Ocean Sentry (Airbus Military CN-235) medium-range surveillance aircraft being supplied by EADS North America. The HC-114A uses the Telephonics APS-143(V)3 radar.