All Currently Commissioned NSC to Have Small Unmanned Air Systems by the End of the Year

A small unmanned aircraft system operator recovers an sUAS (Scan Eagle–Chuck) after a flight from Coast Guard Cutter Stratton in the South China Sea Sept. 16, 2019. The sUAS is capable of flying for more than 20 hours and has a maximum speed of about 60 mph. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Nate Littlejohn.

The Acquisitions Directorate (CG-9) has announced that all eight currently commissioned National Security Cutters should have small unmanned aircraft systems but the end of the calender year (quoted below). Presumably these will be Scan Eagle systems. Intention is to have these on the Offshore Patrol Cutters as well. 

“The Coast Guard’s small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) for national security cutter (NSC) program reached a milestone March 4 when Rear Adm. Michael Johnston, assistant commandant for acquisition and chief acquisition officer, approved a move to full production, called ADE-3. This allows the program to move forward with outfitting the remainder of the Service’s operational NSCs with sUAS capability.

“The Coast Guard awarded a contract June 6, 2018, to Insitu for the procurement of sUAS capability on three NSCs and options to outfit the rest of the NSC fleet in future years. In 2019, the Commandant expressed the service’s intent to accelerate delivery of the capability. The sUAS program office, aided by Naval Information Warfare Center-Atlantic, developed an aggressive strategy to install and employ the sUAS capability onboard all operational NSCs by the end of calendar year 2020. The ADE-3 approval allows the newly implemented schedule to continue as set. The program is currently on track to meet guidance to double installation rates by the end of calendar year 2020.

“Coast Guard Cutters Stratton, James, Munro, Kimball and Waesche are fully outfitted with sUAS capability. Coast Guard Cutters Bertholf, Hamilton and Midgett are all currently being outfitted with the sUAS capability. Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf is scheduled to be fully mission capable in summer 2020 with Hamilton and Midgett on track to be completed before the end of the calendar year.

“A UAS consists of an unmanned aircraft, its mission payloads, launch and recovery equipment, ground support equipment, and data and control links. The Coast Guard requires a UAS that can remain on station for extended periods, expand maritime domain awareness and disseminate actionable intelligence on maritime hazards and threats.

“For more information: Unmanned Aircraft Systems program page”

Insitu ScanEagle small Unmanned Air System (sUAS)

4 thoughts on “All Currently Commissioned NSC to Have Small Unmanned Air Systems by the End of the Year

    • There should definitely be a strong look at fitting these onto FRCs, especially since they don’t have helos on board to begin with. It would be a great asset considering how well the FRCs have been performing without one. Only thing is the contraption in the photo Chuck provided looks pretty big…not sure if there’s a space where it would reasonably fit on an FRC.

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