The Coast Guard on Tuesday awarded two small contracts to resellers to provide trusted, short range-unmanned aviation systems (SR-UAS) from Parrot and Skydio that can be used to help meet its statutory missions.
Skydio’s X2D small UAS system will be supplied by Atlantic Diving Supply under a $696,686 contract and Parrot’s Anafi USA Mil small UAS will be supplied by W. S. Darley & Co. under a $699,996 award.
The Coast Guard currently uses ScanEagle UAS aboard its high-endurance national security cutters to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support in addition to helicopters that deploy with the ships. The ScanEagles are provided by Boeing’s [BA] Insitu business unit as contractor owned and operated assets.
Unlike the ScanEagles, which are considered Group 2 UAS, meaning they have a maximum gross take-off weight between 21 and 55 pounds, the Parrot and Skydio drones being purchased by the Coast Guard are Group 1 aircraft, which have a maximum gross take-off weight of 20 pounds. The smaller drones that the Coast Guard is buying can launch from the palm of a hand whereas the ScanEagle requires a launching system.
The two small UAS are being purchased off a Blanked Purchase Agreement (BPA) maintained by the Department of Homeland Security for systems that meet trusted requirements in terms of cybersecurity and their components. The trusted small UAS are vetted by the Defense Department’s Defense Innovation Unit under the Blue sUAS program.
The award notice for Skydio drone says the “X2D’s unique non-GPS collision avoidance system makes it ideal for close proximity mission sets. The system’s collision avoidance system also postures the device to operate beyond visual line of sight if the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approves that paradigm in the future.”
The Coast Guard also says that that the Skydio drone is the only one on the DHS BPA that meets the FAA’s requirements for night operations and also has a secure network for live audio and video transmission.
As for the Parrot small UAS, the Coast Guard says it is the only device on the DHS list “that demonstrated a consistent and reliable capability to conduct underway take-offs and recoveries while in the marine environment. Further, the Parrot Anafi’s optics capability for both standard video and infrared meets the varied mission capabilities of the USCG, especially for SAR and LE.” SAR is search and rescue and LE refers to law enforcement.