The US Navy recently completed an extended mission demonstration of the unmanned aircraft system to assess capabilities that could benefit the fleet in the future.
The Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical UAS Program Office (PMA-263), Naval Air Warfare Center AIRWorks Aircraft Division and Navy Warfare Development Command led the sea demonstration July 11-15, 2022 , aboard USS Paul Hamilton (DDG-60) in San Diego.
Two vendors, Insitu Inc. and L3Harris, demonstrated several technologies designed to operate as a portable system in harsh conditions while providing the same wide coverage as a terrestrial system.
“This event was a great opportunity to evaluate unmanned capabilities in a relevant environment, learn how they can support and improve operations, and get direct feedback from the fleet,” said Colonel Victor Argobright. , head of the PMA-263 program. “A lot of work has been done in a short time across the company to make this happen.”
Earlier this year, PMA-263 and AIRWorks partnered in collaboration with Innovation and Modernization Patuxent River (IMPAX), the NAWCAD partner for experimentation, technology demonstrations and prototyping, and with the Fleet Experimentation Team (FLEX) of NWDC to identify and investigate a UAS. capable of performing extended missions from a Navy surface ship at long range for extended periods of time while relaying accurate and relevant information to the host ship.
The team selected vendors to participate in the demo based on their ability to deliver a system that could operate without additional support systems, deploy without dedicated launch or recovery equipment, and have portability, maximum self-sufficiency and modularity on UAS hardware and payloads.
“The USS Paul Hamilton team was thrilled to be part of this demonstration,” said Cmdr. Jake Ferrari, the ship’s commander. “Seeing the energy being deployed to deliver UAS-related capabilities aboard surface ships is exciting. I look forward to future efforts that will provide sustainable fleet capability integrated into sustained operations.
The systems have demonstrated extensive surveillance capability over multiple mission sets. The government will review the data collected during the demonstration to further assess the performance of each system.
“Both vendors rose to the challenge and the crew of the USS Paul Hamilton provided exceptional support and feedback,” Argobright said. “It’s teamwork like this that’s needed to get capability into the hands of sailors as quickly as possible. We will leverage this effort and work with Navy leaders on the next steps to make it happen. »
As part of a multi-step merit-based selection process, the demonstration could lead to Insitu or L3Harris being awarded a prototype Other Transaction Authority project under 10 USC 2371b later this year. OTAs are used by the DOD to carry out prototype, research, and production projects.