DARPA program to develop long-range UAVs for launch from small ships

Military Aerospace and Electronics is reporting a contract, “…to develop a medium-altitude long-endurance UAV for long-term maritime surveillance that can launch and recover from relatively small ships to provide airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and strike mobile targets anywhere, around the clock…The ultimate goal for a TERN UAV and launch system to enable persistent ISR and strike capabilities with payloads of 600 pounds while operating at ranges as long as 900 nautical miles from a host vessel.”

These would apparently be fixed wing UAVs , with two aircraft being able to maintain a 24 hour a day orbit. A flight demonstration is expected in 2017.

Note the small ships they refer to are only small compared to aircraft carriers, “The TERN system should be able to operate from several relatively small ship types in rough seas, including the 2,784-ton Independence-class littoral combat ship (LCS), which is 418 feet long and 104 feet wide, with a large aft-located flight deck. Other ships of interest are amphibious transport docks, dock landing ships, and Military Sealift Command cargo ships.”

They might still be capable of operating from some of the Coast Guard’s largest ships.