Today, members from Sector Enforcement travelled to Naval Base Ventura County at Point Mugu, Calif. to discuss the possible use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to support Coast Guard missions. Pictured is the Navy’s MQ-8C Fire Scout, an unmanned helicopter used for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.
Is the Coast Guard looking to buy MQ-8C? It is not unlikely, the Navy wants to exercise these assets in an operational environment. Cutters doing drug interdiction are almost perfect for them. This is more likely looking at an opportunity for a Navy Detachment to deploy with a cutter than that the Coast Guard is looking to buy MQ-8C.
The MQ-8C should be able to search a much larger area than the Scan Eagles we are using now. The four National Security Cutters in Alameda have room for one of these in addition to an H-65 and Scan Eagle. There are also two WMEC 210 on the West Coast that might use these, but I would expect to see Scan Eagle on the WMECs before Fire Scout, but it is a possibility.
The First two OPCs are coming to San Pedro, hopefully, beginning next year. They also have ample aviation space, so perhaps they are a possibility as well.
This could be a win-win.