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”
Should apply to ALL Cutters and Icebreakers too. Even to those without Aerial Assets in their design plan…
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.
US Army uses a “Tethered Quad Rotor Drone” to extend it’s ability to see greater distances to an altitude of ~185-feet or ~16.7nmi visual horizon. The “SkyFront” Drone can stay aloft for ~5-hours with a range of ~110nmi in a 25mph headwind. Not great, but better than nothing…
Scan Eagles have operated from vessels smaller than the FRC. It would probably require moving things around and maybe sacrificing the ability to do vertical replenishment on the deck forward of the bridge. There are other options like TALONS to expand their search capability. https://chuckhillscgblog.net/2019/12/09/a-successful-test-of-talons-and-an-air-droppable-rescue-boat/
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