In a first for the Coast Guard, the service has awarded Boeing’s [BA] Insitu business unit a potential $12.3 million to begin operating a contractor-owned ScanEagle unmanned aircraft system aboard a National Security Cutter (NSC), the company said on Monday.

 The initial task order is for $4.5 million and includes operation, integration, maintenance and sparing of a ScanEagle for one year. The Coast Guard will own all of the surveillance data obtained through ScanEagle operations.

The ScanEagle is a catapult launched UAV. Photo: Boeing.
The ScanEagle is a catapult launched UAV. Photo: Boeing.

The task order is potentially worth $12.3 million for three additional years and would cover options for deployment of and data from prototype small UAS capability.

The task order was awarded through an existing multiple award contract the Naval Air Systems Command has with different UAS vendors.

The ScanEagle will provide the Coast Guard NSC with more operational utility, complementing manned aircraft assets and enhancing situational awareness at sea.

“Insitu is proud to be the first UAS ISR service provider in support of the Coast Guard,” Ryan Hartman, Insitu’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “ScanEagle’s unparalleled record of operations at sea and proven ability to give operators eyes over the horizon will go far in support of the Coast Guard’s unique mission sets.”

Last July the Coast Guard conducted operational demonstrations with ScanEagle in the Northwest Passage simulating search and rescue exercises, and concurrent operations with manned aircraft. In 2013 the Coast Guard conducted nine days of ScanEagle operations aboard its Bertholf NSC in a test that included two drug interdictions that resulted in the seizure of more than 600 kilograms of cocaine and six detainees who were later prosecuted.

The Navy has used ScanEagle for shipborne operations for a number of years. The UAS is also used by foreign governments and for commercial applications.

The Coast Guard is currently budgeted for nine NSCs. Congress is considering adding a 10th NSC as part of the FY ’17 budget deliberations.