The entire U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Security Cutter fleet will soon be equipped with drones for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) routines thanks to a new contract which has been signed with Insitu’s ScanEagle.
The $117 million contract was awarded on June 7 and will cover 200 hours of flight of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) each 30 days, providing surveillance, detection, classification and identification services.
The contract follows deployment of ISR services provided to the Security Cutter known as USCGC STRATTON as part of an initial contract in 2016. That deployment proved extremely successful, directly resulting in the seizure of over $1.5 billion worth of cocaine and heroin and adding to a record-breaking year for such seizures by the USCG in 2017.
Don Williamson, vice president and general manager, Insitu Defense, said their involvement in that incident brought to light the potential for drones to further assist the U.S. Coast Guard.
“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,” he said.
In addition to ISR services, Insitu’s sUAS will also support prosecution through the provision of real-time imagery, data, target illumination, communications relay and other capabilities.
Cmdr. Daniel Broadhurst, who served as unmanned aircraft systems division chief in the Office of Aviation Forces says the contract award also marks a major milestone for the acquisition process.
“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,” he said
“The Coast Guard is excited to award the contract for the service’s first class-wide sUAS to Insitu.”
“The USCG will continue to push the limits of unmanned aviation,” said Williamson. “We are proud to have earned the opportunity to continue to support the invaluable service the men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard provide to this country.”
Infrastructure installation for the sUAS ISR systems was commenced by the USGC in April 2018, and plans have been made to install hardware on Coast Guard Cutters James in autumn of 2018, Munro in late winter 2019 and Bertholf in late spring or early summer 2019.