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The Coast Guard released a request for proposal Dec. 12, 2023, for maritime unmanned aircraft system services capable of deploying from Coast Guard cutters. The full RFP is available here.

The Coast Guard released a draft request for proposal for industry comment for maritime unmanned aircraft system for host cutters. The deadline to comment is July 21, 2023.

The Coast Guard released a request for information Jan. 19, 2023, to conduct market research on the state of the UAS commercial marketplace regarding capabilities, sensors and payloads.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Small Unmanned Aircraft System for the National Security Cutter

The Coast Guard is procuring unmanned aircraft system (UAS) capability as a cost-effective approach to meeting the national security cutter’s (NSC) operational need for a persistent airborne surveillance capability. Use of UAS expands maritime domain awareness and disseminates actionable intelligence on maritime hazards and threats.

Why this program?

The current non-major acquisition program focuses only on UAS capability for the service’s NSC fleet. A UAS consists of an unmanned aircraft, its mission payloads, launch and recovery equipment, ground control station, and control and data links. For the NSCs the Coast Guard required UAS that can remain on station for extended periods.

The Coast Guard has validated a mission need for other UAS capabilities; for more information see the Overview tab below.

How is the UAS being acquired?

The Coast Guard focused its sUAS for NSC acquisition efforts on evaluating technologically mature systems, seeking commonality with Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense programs, and applying other agencies’ UAS experience.

To minimize acquisition risk, the Coast Guard initially obtained an interim UAS capability on one NSC – Coast Guard Cutter Stratton – via a pre-existing multiple award contract executed by the Naval Air Systems Command. The patrol data was used to refine the concept of operations and requirements for installing and integrating across the NSC class.

The Coast Guard awarded a contract June 6, 2018, to Insitu for contractor-owned and -operated UAS capability on three NSCs and options to outfit the rest of the NSC fleet in future years. In 2019, the commandant of the Coast Guard challenged the program to accelerate the pace. The Coast Guard completed its accelerated production schedule March 22, 2021, and the only remaining cutter to receive UAS capability is Cutter Stone, which will be completed in 2022.

Coast Guard Cutters Stratton, James, Munro, Kimball, Waesche, Bertholf, Hamilton and Midgett are now fully outfitted with UAS capability.


Coast Guard UAS strategy

The Coast Guard is considering employment of additional UAS to augment its aircraft fleets and to expand the surveillance range of surface assets. Building on developmental work by other uniformed services and federal agencies, the Coast Guard is considering cost-effective UAS solutions that meet cutter-based and land-based requirements.

Cutter-based UAS: Cutter-based UAS are considered part of the force package for major cutters, including the NSC and the planned offshore patrol cutter.

Land-based UAS: The Coast Guard has validated a mission need for land-based UAS to significantly enhance ocean surveillance in support of the service’s operations. Coast Guard land-based UAS flight crews are jointly operating maritime-variant Predator UAS (Guardian) on maritime missions with Customs and Border Protection to enhance the Coast Guard’s understanding of potential land-based UAS solutions and support the development of a land-based UAS requirements package.

UAS: In the News


Dec. 18, 2023 - Coast Guard releases request for proposal for maritime unmanned aircraft system services

Jan. 25, 2023 - Coast Guard seeks information on UAS capabilities


Aug. 12, 2022 - Coast Guard releases request for information for medium-range unmanned aircraft systems


April 16, 2021 - Coast Guard completes UAS installations on two national security cutters


Nov. 12, 2020 - sUAS for NSC continues accelerated production schedule

March 18, 2020 - Small UAS for NSC acquisition reaches milestone


June 7, 2018 - Coast Guard Awards Contract To Procure Small UAS Capability For National Security Cutter

Feb. 8, 2018 - Coast Guard Releases Request For Proposal To Procure Small UAS For National Security Cutters

Jan. 29, 2018 - Small Unmanned Aircraft System Assists National Security Cutter Drug Interdictions


Oct. 23, 2017 - Small UAS For NSC Acquisition Proceeds To Next Phase

Sept. 20, 2017 - Small Unmanned Aircraft System Assists Stratton Drug Interdictions

Aug. 30, 2017 - Coast Guard Releases Request For Information For Long-range And Ultra-long Endurance Unmanned Aircraft Systems

April 4, 2017 - Acquisition Update: Stratton Completes First Deployment With Small UAS

March 29, 2017 - Acquisition Update: Coast Guard Invites Industry Feedback On Small UAS Draft Request For Proposal

Feb. 10, 2017 - Acquisition Update: Coast Guard Members Complete Small Unmanned Aircraft System Training

Jan. 12, 2017 - Acquisition Update: Coast Guard Conducts Small Unmanned Aircraft System Testing On Cutter Stratton


Oct. 11, 2016 - Coast Guard Begins Small Unmanned Aircraft System Installation On Cutter Stratton

June 28, 2016 - Acquisition Update: Coast Guard Selects Small UAS For NSC


July 7, 2015 - Acquisition Update: Coast Guard RDC Conducts RAMPS Demonstration


Dec. 18, 2014 - Acquisition Update: Coast Guard Continues UAS Research With Joint Fire Scout Demonstration

Dec. 8, 2014 - Coast Guard RDC Evaluates Unmanned Aircraft System From NSC

April 2014 - Acquisition Update: Coast Guard Concludes Last Phase of Small Unmanned Aircraft System Demonstration


July 2013 - Acquisition Update: Coast Guard Nets Historic Drug Interdiction During Most Recent Phase of Unmanned Aircraft System Technology Demonstrations