Coast Guard Floor Presentations at Sea-Air-Space 2018

3-View line drawing and dimensions of MQ-1B Predator UAV, – Department of the Air Force, Engineering Technical Letter (ETL) 09-1: Airfield Planning and Design Criteria for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), 28 Sept 2009

The Acquisitions Directorate (CG-9) web site has three links that provide information presented at the Navy League’s 2018 Sea-Air-Space Symposium.

Industry Input Sought On UAS Technology Demonstration–CG-9

Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) flies on a simulated Navy aerial reconnaissance flight near the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) off the coast of southern California on Dec. 5, 1995. The Predator provides near, real-time infrared and color video to intelligence analysts and controllers on the ground and the ship. This is the Predator’s first maritime mission with a carrier battle group. The UAV was launched from San Nicholas Island off the coast of southern California. DoD photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jeffrey S. Viano, U.S. Navy.

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 earlierThe 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..

3-View line drawing and dimensions of MQ-1B Predator UAV, – Department of the Air Force, Engineering Technical Letter (ETL) 09-1: Airfield Planning and Design Criteria for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), 28 Sept 2009

Canadian Navy Buying Small UAS For Coast Defense Ships

HMCS Saskatoon, a Kingston class Coastal Defence Vessel, near Esquimalt, British Columbia and A CH-149 Cormorant helicopter that is practicing personnel transfers.
Date March 2007
Photo by Rayzlens

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.

The Coast Guard has some experience with the Puma UAS as it has flown from USCGC Healey, and from USCGC Chock as part of a demonstration

John Ferguson and Chris Thompson, Unmanned Aircraft System operators for AeroVironment, release a Puma All Environment UAS from the flight deck of the Coast Guard Cutter Healy during an exercise in the Arctic Aug. 18, 2014. (U.S. Coast Guard Photo)

Below can be seen the Mantis i45 sensor as installed on the Puma sUAS

Mantis i45 sensor

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.

 

RfP for Services/Textron’s Aerosonde sUAS

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).

GULF OF MEXICO (Feb. 10, 2013) Members of the RQ-21A Small Tactical Unmanned Air System (STUAS) test team transport the RQ-21A across the flight deck of the amphibious transport dock USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) after its first flight at sea. Mesa Verde is underway conducting exercises. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sabrina Fine/Released) 130210-N-NB538-195

“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?

Drone Rescue

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.

Remote Control Boat and Drone Attacks–USNI

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).

SS-N-2 Styx/P-15 Termit

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.

Ultra Long Range/Long Endurance UAS

3-View line drawing and dimensions of MQ-1B Predator UAV, – Department of the Air Force, Engineering Technical Letter (ETL) 09-1: Airfield Planning and Design Criteria for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), 28 Sept 2009

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..