After being awarded a United States Coast Guard (USCG) contract award, Insitu’s ScanEagle UAS will be used to provide small UAS ISR services aboard the entire U.S. Coast Guard National Security Cutter fleet.
Valued at approximately $117 million, the service contract covers the installation and deployment of small UAS for 200 hours per 30-day operational patrol period. ScanEagle will be used for a variety of tasks, including conducting surveillance, detection, classification and identification operations.
The UAS will also be used to “support prosecution” by providing real-time imagery, data, target illumination, communications relay and other capabilities to the fleet, as well as other government platforms as needed.
Just two years ago, Insitu won the contract to provide small UAS ISR services aboard one National Security Cutter, the USCGC STRATTON. By January of this year, ScanEagle had directly assisted the ship’s crews in seizing more than $1.5 billion of cocaine and heroin, as it played a major role in the USCG’s record-breaking year for drug busts in 2017.
“When ScanEagle initially deployed with the STRATTON, we recognized what an incredible opportunity we had to partner with the U.S. Coast Guard to bring dynamic improvements to mission effectiveness and change aviation history,” says Don Williamson, vice president and general manager, Insitu Defense.
The contract award also marks a major milestone for the acquisition process, notes Cmdr. Daniel Broadhurst, who served as unmanned aircraft systems division chief in the Office of Aviation Forces.
“The sUAS has already proven itself to be a transformational technology, and the deployment of this capability to the entirety of the NSC fleet is an incredibly important first step in realizing the Coast Guard’s vision of fleet-wide UAS implementation,” Broadhurst says.
“The Coast Guard is excited to award the contract for the service’s first class-wide sUAS to Insitu.”
And USNI News in an article by Ben Werner added some additional deteails:
The contract marks the end of what had become a multi-year testing process for the Coast Guard to find an unmanned aircraft to assist with its ongoing mission to stop drug smuggling and human trafficking.
“The UAS has already proven itself to be a transformational technology, and the deployment of this capability to the entirety of the [National Security Cutter] fleet is an incredibly important first step in realizing the Coast Guard’s vision of fleet-wide UAS implementation,” Cmdr. Daniel Broadhurst, unmanned aircraft systems division chief in the Office of Aviation Forces, said in a statement.
A draft request for proposal was released in March 2017 after the service hadn’t found an existing platform that met the Coast Guard’s needs, USNI News previously reported. The RFP had stated the Coast Guard was looking for a “persistent, tactical airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capability that can remain airborne for at least twelve hours per day.”
The Coast Guard had been using ScanEagle in a limited basis when the system deployed aboard USCGC Stratton (WMSL-752). The Coast Guard credits ScanEagle with helping Stratton’s crew interdict an estimated $165 million worth of cocaine during a two month period in 2017….
ScanEagle can remain aloft for more than 24 hours, can cruise at 55 knots with a maximum speed of 90 knots, and has service ceiling of 15,000 feet, according to Insitu. The system is shot from a pneumatic launcher and recovered using a hook and arresting wire. ScanEagle is 8.2-feet long and has a 16-foot wingspan.
Insitu plans to start installing ScanEagle hardware on USCGC James (WMSL-754) this fall, then on USCGC Munro (WHEC-724) in early 2019, and on USCGC Bertholf (WMSL-750) in late spring or early summer 2019.