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Small UAS for NSC acquisition reaches milestone

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The Coast Guard’s small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) for national security cutter (NSC) program reached a milestone March 4 when Rear Adm. Michael Johnston, assistant commandant for acquisition and chief acquisition officer, approved a move to full production, called ADE-3. This allows the program to move forward with outfitting the remainder of the Service’s operational NSCs with sUAS capability.

The Coast Guard awarded a contract June 6, 2018, to Insitu for the procurement of sUAS capability on three NSCs and options to outfit the rest of the NSC fleet in future years. In 2019, the Commandant expressed the service’s intent to accelerate delivery of the capability. The sUAS program office, aided by Naval Information Warfare Center-Atlantic, developed an aggressive strategy to install and employ the sUAS capability onboard all operational NSCs by the end of calendar year 2020. The ADE-3 approval allows the newly implemented schedule to continue as set. The program is currently on track to meet guidance to double installation rates by the end of calendar year 2020.

Coast Guard Cutters Stratton, James, Munro, Kimball and Waesche are fully outfitted with sUAS capability. Coast Guard Cutters Bertholf, Hamilton and Midgett are all currently being outfitted with the sUAS capability. Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf is scheduled to be fully mission capable in summer 2020 with Hamilton and Midgett on track to be completed before the end of the calendar year.

A UAS consists of an unmanned aircraft, its mission payloads, launch and recovery equipment, ground support equipment, and data and control links. The Coast Guard requires a UAS that can remain on station for extended periods, expand maritime domain awareness and disseminate actionable intelligence on maritime hazards and threats.

For more information: Unmanned Aircraft Systems program page