The U.S. Coast Guard needs more unmanned aircraft as eyes in the sky to support key missions such as search and rescue, drug interdiction and maritime patrol. The service will soon deploy these aircraft from its cutters as part of a long-term effort to expand the Coast Guard’s use of airborne robot platforms. Both ships and shore-based installations will be equipped with medium-range unmanned aerial systems to aid manned aircraft and provide real-time, around-the-clock surveillance.
unmanned aerial vehicles
Long a tool of allies trying to foil improvised explosive devices, unmanned systems now may be entering the fray against friendly forces. Both terrorists and nation-states are striving to employ these systems, especially airborne platforms, to deploy new types of improvised threats against U.S. and coalition forces.
The use of unmanned aerial vehicles offers new capabilities in a variety of operations. In some cases, the aircraft can replace their counterparts that carry human pilots or passengers. But each mission must be chosen carefully—not to be overshadowed by the rush to employ drones.
As people get better at killing each other, the technology they are using to defend themselves also gets better. This applies to both friends and foes of the United States. The world is growing increasingly volatile, with nation-states developing innovative ways to threaten global stability. Russia, for one, is creating anti-access/area-denial exclusion zones with its encroachment on sovereign nations, and China has been establishing air defense zones off its coast while spending heavily on modernized weapon systems that can reach farther into the Pacific Ocean.
AAI Corporation, Hunt Valley, Maryland, has been awarded a more than $12 million contract to provide for the retrofitting of two Shadow unmanned aircraft systems with tactical common data link. The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the contracting activity.
Oklahoma State University, University Multispectral Laboratories, Ponca City, Oklahoma, is being awarded a $44 million contract for research and development of electro-optical, radio frequency, and acoustic sensors, as well as unmanned aerial vehicles technologies. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, New Jersey is the contracting activity.