The Acquisitions Directorate (CG-9) web site has three links that provide information presented at the Navy League’s 2018 Sea-Air-Space Symposium.
Below is a report from the Acquisitions Directorate (CG-9):
Industry Input Sought On UAS Technology Demonstration
April 6, 2018
The Coast Guard on March 26 released a draft solicitation for long range/ultra-long endurance (LR/U-LE) unmanned aircraft system (UAS) technology demonstration and flight services requirements. Industry is invited to submit questions, comments and feedback on draft items including the statement of work, proposal requirements and evaluation methodology. The draft solicitation is available here.
The draft solicitation is part of congressionally directed market research to examine the feasibility, costs and benefits of using land-based LR/U-LE UAS to conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. Responses are due by April 9 at 5 p.m. EST. The formal solicitation for the contract is planned for release later this spring.
For more information: Research, Development, Test and Evaluation program page
As noted earlier, The Air Force has recently decided to retire all their MQ-1 Predator UAVs replacing them with the MQ-9 Reaper. Perhaps we could get a near term interim capability and gain valuable experience by taking over some of the Air Force Predators and modifying them for a Maritime role..
Seapower Magazine (on-line) is reporting that Canada will equip its Coastal Defense ships with the Puma AE RQ-20B small unmanned air system (sUAS). These ships of the Kingston class, are a bit smaller than the Coast Guard’s 210 foot cutters and have no flight deck.
These ships frequently cooperate with the Coast Guard in drug interdiction operations, with a USCG Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) on board.
Below can be seen the Mantis i45 sensor as installed on the Puma sUAS
This might be a candidate for a sUAS to operate from the Webber class WPCs. I can see some useful scenarios, such as providing overwatch while doing a law enforcement boarding, but I still think we need something more capable of providing a more persistent and more wide-ranging search. Still a combination of a sUAS like this and the TALONS (Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems) might be very effective. The recovery methods I have seen so far, for this system, either landing on the flight deck of an icebreaker or landing in the water don’t seem satisfactory.
Still I would suggest we take a look at what the Canadians are doing. We might want to send an R&D rep who has participated in our previous examination of sUAS to ride one of these ships during the last half of a drug interdiction patrol, so they can get input from both the Canadians and the LEDET.
Seapower, a Navy League Magazine and web site, reports, the Coast Guard issued a Request for Proposal on February 7, for “Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity Competitive and Unrestricted Commercial Services Combined Synopsis/Solicitation for Unmanned Aircraft Systems for National Security Cutters (NSCs) for the United States Coast Guard.” Proposals are due by March 9. (Pretty quick turn around.)
In particular they identify two competing systems, the Scan Eagle from Insitu and Textron Systems Aerosonde sUAS. We have been talking about the Scan Eagle for almost seven years. Also the Coast Guard has been using Scan Eagle operationally, but since we have not talked about the Aerosonde I thought, perhaps we should take a look.
There is a pdf brochure on the Aerosonde here.
The Aerosonde is a bit bigger than the Scan Eagle, but if a larger aircraft is needed then Insitu has the option of offering the RQ-21 Blackjack which is in the Navy’s inventory.
For a rough comparison, Scan Eagle has a max Take Off Weight 44-48.5 lb. (22 kg), Aerosonde has a max TO weight of 80 lb (36.4 kg), and the RQ-21A Blackjack a max TO weight of 135 lb (61.4 kg).
“The U.S. Coast Guard customer has expressed unique technology and operational requirements in its Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (SUAS) RfP,” so we are not simply going to buy what the Navy already has. Using the usual optical systems is like looking through a straw. I expect the Coast Guard is going to want an area search capability, radar or perhaps ViDAR.
Figuring out how best to use these is going to be an interesting Operations Research problem. What search pattern? at what altitude? How far out can we fly these and still communicate and have the cutter provide sense and avoid to prevent a mid-air?
An interesting short video. Heard about this first from BBC. (Thanks to my wife.)
A drone reaches people in the water and drops an inflatable float. This might be useful as a response to a man-over-board, particularly if the drone were equipped with low light level/IR. The drone could not only drop a float but could also hold position over the person in the water until the ship can come back for a pick-up. A light on the drone might help.
US Naval Institute news service brings us a report of another unconventional attack by remote controlled boats, this time on a commercial tanker. We have seen this type of attack before, but apparently this was “at least the sixth time Houthis used remote-controlled boats to attack shipping and oil assets in the Red Sea, according to a tally of Saudi and Gulf region news reports.”
This report is buried in a report about a drone attack on Russian bases in Syria, but there are some interesting details.
The post reports an examination of a captured remote controlled boat,
The 30-foot long patrol boat, originally manufactured by the UAE-based company Al Fattan Ship Industry, was one of at least 60 donated by the UAE Coast Guard to the Yemeni Navy before the civil war kicked off in 2015.
The boat’s control unit was connected to a remotely operated video camera and a Garmin GPS antenna, suggesting the operator was able to stream live footage of the boat’s progress during the attack, and was fitted with a Soviet-manufactured P-15 Termit anti-ship missile and shaped explosive charge.
The P-15 Termit is another designation for the Styx, an early Soviet anti-ship missile. It is 5.8 m (19 ft) long and weighs 2,580 kg (5,690 lb).
In countering the sUAV attack, the Russians used both hard and soft kill. The Pantsir-S reportedly use to shoot down seven of the drones is a short range, combined gun and missile, anti-air system. Six more were brought down by electronic counter-measures.
According to the report, Putin said, “These aerial vehicles were disguised – I would like to stress that – as homemade. But it is obvious that some high-tech equipment was used,” Perhaps Putin is not aware, or simply refuses to acknowledge, how sophisticated hobby drone auto-pilots have become. All you need is Google Earth for targeting and you can set in way-points and altitudes and have it fly to any point within the range of the aircraft.
The Coast Guard Compass has a post on the Coast Guard’s investigation of possible future procurement of land based long-range and ultra-long endurance unmanned aircraft systems (LR/ULE UAS).
The Air Force has recently decided to retire all their MQ-1 Predator UAVs replacing them with the MQ-9 Reaper. Perhaps we could get a near term interim capability and gain valuable experience by taking over some of the Air Force Predators and modifying them for a Maritime role..