Below is an Acquisitions Directorate (CG-9) statement regarding a Request for Information,
The Coast Guard released a request for information (RFI) Aug. 5 to determine the potential sources and the technical capability of industry to provide Group II and Group III unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), capable of deploying from Coast Guard cutters.
So what are “Group II and Group III unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)?” Wikipedia identifies the groups and provides examples.
- Group II: Maximum weight 21 to 55 pounds (25 kg); Nominal Operating Altitude <3500 feet above ground level (AGL) (1,067 meters); speed less than 250 knots
- Group III: Maximum weight <1320 pounds (600 kg); Nominal Operating Altitude < flight level 180 (about 18,000 feet or 5,488 meters); speed less than 250 knots
Notably the Navy’s Fire Scout is a Group IV UAS, so will not be considered. These groups do include both Insitu’s Scan Eagle, currently being used on National Security Cutters and their larger RQ-21 Blackjack. Also included are the V-Bat which has been tested on a Coast Guard WMEC and a number other vertical take-off and landing capable UAS.
The RFI appendix 1, entitled “Draft System Performance Specifications (SPS)” is 11 pages long and provides much more detail. I will mention only some highlights and these are only the minimums, there are also higher objective criteria:
- Endurance: 12 hours
- Dash speed: 70 knots
- Cruise speed: 50 knots
- Service ceiling: 3,000 feet
- Range: 40 nmi in clear weather, 35 in light rain
- The UA shall provide fully automated flight operations, including launch and recovery.
- The UA shall have space, weight, and power to concurrently operate: Electro-Optical (EO) sensor, Infra-Red (IR) sensor, AIS, VHF/UHF communications relay, aeronautical transponder, and non-visible IR marker. [KPP]
- At an operating altitude of 3,000 feet when the UAS is directly overhead of the target of interest (no slant range), the UA shall be acoustically non–detectable per MIL STD-1474 (series), Level 1 requirements (quiet rural area with the closest heavily used highway and community noises at least 2.5 miles away).
Notably there is no mention of radar or vidar, although Vidar is an EO sensor currently used by Scan Eagle UAS operating from National Security Cutters. There is also this,
The UA shall be capable of accepting modular payloads. Modular payloads are defined as payloads that can be replaced or interchanged with the previously-installed EO or IR payload(s) within one to two hours (elapsed time). Modular payloads may be government provided.
I did find this interesting, “The UA shall launch and recover while a static MH-65 is spotted with blades unfolded on the flight deck.”
The drawings contained in Appendix 2 indicate that these Unmanned Aircraft are intended for Bertholf class “National Security” cutters. Appendix 1 also sounded like these would be contractor operated, as are the Scan Eagles currently being deployed on National Security Cutters.
Since these specs are not too different from the Scan Eagles already being used on National Security Cutters, the Coast Guard may be just checking the competition to see what else is out there. On the other hand, perhaps some of the requirements may not be being met by the Scan Eagle UAS we are currently using. That the RFI provided only 17 days from issue to deadline for response, suggests the Coast Guard had already been been in communications with “the usual suspects.”
Coast Guard releases request for information for medium-range unmanned aircraft systems
The Coast Guard is interested in UAS that include fully automatic flight operations, have a minimum endurance of 12 hours and can be launched and recovered from a cutter flight deck. For Coast Guard mission success, UAS need to be capable of carrying a payload including electro-optical and infrared sensors and communications relay. Technological readiness level and degree of commonality and interoperability with existing Department of Homeland Security or Department of Defense programs are also of interest.
The full RFI is available here. Responses are due by 1 p.m. EDT Aug. 22.
For more information: Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program page