The US Coast Guard (USCG) is to expand its use of unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) – namely Insitu Scan Eagles – on board National Security Cutters by the end of this year.
After the national Security Cutters have been built, three of the UAVs are to be deployed on each of the 11 cutters and will aid in search and rescue, as well as during drug smuggling operations and ice-breaking missions.
The Scan Eagle has a range up to 80nm (148km) and an endurance of up to 18 hours – in addition, the Insitu operating staff have agreed on a service contract to fly the aircraft up to 200 hours per month for the service.
The Scan Eagles ─ which will carry a variety of payloads for the USCG, including electro-optical, mid-wave infrared, and visual detection and ranging sensors, as well as a laser pointer and communications relay hardware ─ are launched from the cutter deck using a catapult, and are recovered by a skyhook.
“It’s a chance for the cutter to be able to push away from their immediate area, not necessarily have to launch a helicopter to be able to see further out,” said Captain Carl Riedlin, USCG Chief of Aviation, commenting on the advantage that the new technology would afford the USCG.