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Acquisition Update: Coast Guard Members Complete Small Unmanned Aircraft System Training

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Unmanned aircraft system operation

A military service member receives instruction in unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operation at Insitu Inc. in Hood River, Oregon. Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Sullens, the technical lead for the UAS acquisition program, received training to become certified as a maritime-rated operator of the ScanEagle sUAS system using the simulator. Photo courtesy of Insitu Inc.


As part of the Coast Guard’s ongoing efforts to stay informed on the state of the small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) market, a member of the Acquisition Directorate’s UAS program (CG-9313) completed sUAS operational training in January 2017.

Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Sullens, the technical lead for the UAS acquisition program, participated in the training provided by Insitu Inc. and achieved certification as a maritime-rated operator of the ScanEagle sUAS system.

The Coast Guard is using the ScanEagle to test integration and a concept of operations for sUAS use on Coast Guard Cutter Stratton, a national security cutter (NSC) based in Alameda, California, with initial deployment this winter. The service will use the deployment data to refine requirements for installing and integrating future systems across the NSC class.

The course included training to perform launch, recovery and minor maintenance. Sullens explained that the training would help the UAS acquisition program to better analyze and assess potential sUAS for NSC solutions. “We gained detailed knowledge of ScanEagle and can use the detailed knowledge of this system to better evaluate it and other systems as we move into the ‘select’ phase.”

In addition, members from the Office of Aviation Forces (CG-711), Office of Aeronautical Engineering (CG-41) and the Stratton crew completed a 10-day mission coordinator course. This course taught capabilities, limitations and standard operation of the ScanEagle and the command, control and coordination functions to smoothly integrate operations with the customer, which in this case is the cutter. The ScanEagle on Stratton is contractor-owned and -operated, but the knowledge of sUAS operations from the course will help the Stratton crewmembers advise the cutter commanding officer during deployment, Sullens said.

The Coast Guard plans to release a request for proposal for sUAS for NSC capability by the end of fiscal year 2017. The contract award for the retrofit of Stratton and one additional NSC is targeted for fiscal year 2018.

For more information: Unmanned Aircraft System program page