Monday, October 08, 2007

UAVs for maritime surveillance

What the the US, and Australians, are working on (full text subscriber only--AW&ST, Sept. 24, p. 70):
Northrop Grumman boasts that its bid for the U.S. Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) competition is the only one to actively execute end-to-end testing.

Central to the company’s proposal for the high-profile program is its Multi-Function Active Sensor (MFAS), a 360-deg. radar capable of identifying and tracking ships. Together with the Boeing P-8A Multi-Mission Aircraft, BAMS will replace the Navy’s P-3 surveillance fleet...

Operating mostly at altitudes over 40,000 ft., above the weather and most air traffic, the UAVs will be fully integrated into the Defense Dept.’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) architecture, providing this information to the joint force in near-real time. Threshold requirements include the ability to maintain, with 80% reliability, an effective time on station (ETOS) of around seven days at 2,000-naut.-mi. mission radius with no more than three air vehicles, as well as a target ETOS of 95% and a 3,000-naut.-mi. mission radius.

Northrop Grumman’s proposal is based on the RQ-4N, a hybrid combining the structure of the Air Force’s Block 20 RQ-4B Global Hawk and systems elements of the later Block 30. Using this, Northrop Grumman believes the threshold requirements are achievable with only two aircraft, and three aircraft will meet the objective of 95% effectivness...

The RQ-4B Block 20, which entered flight tests Mar. 1, can cruise at 310 kt. and operate up to 65,000 ft. Competing BAMS proposals are the Boeing/Gulfstream G550—a variant of the business jet adapted for unmanned operations—and the Lockheed Martin/General Atomics Mariner medium-altitude UAV, which is derived from the Predator family...

Navy officials are expecting to announce a BAMS winner as soon as October. Initial operational capability is set for 2013. Australia, a partner in the development effort, expects to buy up to nine BAMS aircraft [emphasis added].
But this from AW&ST, Oct. 8, p. 23 (same warning):
The U.S. Navy’s selection of a contractor to develop the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) system has slipped until February. It was slated for award this month.
I remain of the view that some such UAV should be very helpful with Canada's surveillance needs, maritime and Arctic.


Blogger Gilles said...

One must not forget the dangers of having UAVs share airspace with civilian aircraft. All it will take is one disaster for UAVs to be banned from non-military airspace....
A near miss over Kabul

Would this UAV (its German) have been allowed over Berlin?

6:47 a.m., October 10, 2007  

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