The Coast Guard Wants UAVs

November 3, 2011
By Robert K. Ackerman
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Tasked with patrolling millions of square miles of water over vast ocean distances, the U.S. Coast Guard is looking to augment its surveillance forces with unmanned air vehicles (UAVs). These craft would serve to alert cutters to what lies over the distant ocean horizon. Rear Adm. Charles W. Ray, USCG, the commander of the 14th Coast Guard District, told the final breakfast audience at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2011 how the vast area of responsibility across the Pacific Ocean tasks Coast Guard operations. Many isolated islands and atolls are U.S. territory, and their fish-rich waters constitute more than a million square miles of U.S. exclusive economic zones. The Coast Guard needs a persistent presence in these waters, and UAVs can help fill that need, the admiral said. Adm. Ray called for an inexpensive UAV that can provide that over-the-horizon presence. He added that while the Coast Guard does not have a program of record for UAVs, it is partnering with Customs and Border Patrol on its Predator program in the hopes of developing a maritime version. It also is following the U.S. Navy's development of UAVs, the admiral noted.

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