The Coast Guard this month released a request for information (RFI) to determine potential sources and capabilities to provide unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) that can deploy from the service’s cutters.
Information is sought on Group II and Group III UAS that can conduct automatic flight operations, including for launch and recover, and remain airborne for at least 12 hours.
Group II UAS are those with maximum gross take-off weight between 21 and 55 pounds and Group III drones are those weighing less than 1,320-pounds. The Coast Guard’s 420-foot high-endurance national security cutters (NSCs) currently deploy with the Boeing [BA] Insitu ScanEagle UAS, which are Group II drones.
Draft system performance specifications accompanying the RFI say the UAS must be able to concurrently operate electro-optical and infrared (IR) sensors, a communications relay, AIS and aeronautical transponders, and a non-visible IR marker.
In addition to the NSCs, the Coast Guard has said it wants its future medium-endurance offshore patrol cutters to be able to deploy with UAS. The first of 25 OPCs is scheduled for delivery in 2023. The Coast Guard currently plans to acquire 11 NSCs, nine of which have been delivered.
The Coast Guard uses the shipboard UAS to expand the surveillance range of its cutters.
Responses to the RFI are due by Aug. 22