Posted: February 8, 2018 2:05 PM

Coast Guard Issues RfP for Surveillance UAS Services

By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor

ARLINGTON, Va. — After nearly two decades of studies and experimentation, the Coast Guard has solicited proposals to fill its requirement for a shipboard small unmanned aerial system (UAS), in this case a competition for an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) services provider for its fleet of national security cutters.

The Coast Guard issued a Request for Proposals (RfP) on the website on Feb. 7 for “Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity Competitive and Unrestricted Commercial Services Combined Synopsis/Solicitation for Unmanned Aircraft Systems for National Security Cutters (NSCs) for the United States Coast Guard.” 

The Coast Guard has since 2017 experimented with Boeing Insitu’s ScanEagle UAS on board the NSC Stratton, from which the UAS participated in several drug interdictions at sea. Stratton currently is on its third deployment with the ScanEagle.

Insitu and Textron Systems, which have provided hundreds of thousands of hours of ISR services to the Department of the Navy and other customers with the ScanEagle and Aerosonde unmanned aerial vehicles, respectively, are expected to submit proposals for the competition.

“ScanEagle has been operating in the maritime domain since 2005 and is proven through ScanEagle operations aboard more than 37 ship classes worldwide,” Don Williamson, vice president and general manager, Insitu Defense, said in a Feb. 8 statement provided to Seapower. “Insitu has had the privilege of supporting the U.S. Coast Guard’s missions and recent maritime narcotics interdictions, and we look forward to competing for the opportunity to provide UAS ISR services aboard the USCG National Security Cutter Fleet.”

“The U.S. Coast Guard customer has expressed unique technology and operational requirements in its Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (SUAS) RfP,” David Phillips, Textron Systems Unmanned Systems vice president of Small/Medium Endurance Unmanned Aircraft Systems, said in a Feb. 8 statement to Seapower. “We are currently evaluating their latest RfP to determine next steps. Textron Systems is equipped to understand and respond to the U.S. Coast Guard’s specific maritime operational needs due to its unmatched experience in surface technologies, such as the Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle and the Ship-to-Shore Connector.

“Our Aerosonde SUAS, which has more than 250,000 hours of operational maturity, has been executing to an extremely high operational tempo for multiple customers every month in austere environments around the world,” Phillips said. “We have honed a streamlined shipboard configuration with no ship alterations that retains all the advanced features of the land-based system. This includes its purpose-built Lycoming heavy-fuel engine, making the Aerosonde SUAS the only system in its class with a propulsion system completely supported by a manufacturer with manned aviation expertise.”

The proposals are due to be submitted to the Coast Guard by March 9.

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