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Military Capabilities

Surface Navy 2018: US Coast Guard expects SUAS for NSC request for proposal in 3–6 weeks

09 January 2018

Key Points

  • The USCG expects a RFP for a widely anticipated procurement in 3–6 weeks
  • The agency expects to spend under USD300 million in acquisition funding for the programme

The US Coast Guard (USCG) expects to release a request for proposal (RFP) for its small unmanned aerial system (SUAS) for National Security Cutter (NSC) programme in three to six weeks, according to a key official.

Lieutenant Commander Jeff Sullens, deputy programme manager for SUAS for NSC, told Jane’s on 9 January that he anticipates awarding under USD300 million in acquisition funding over an eight-year period-of-performance for this programme. Operations funding, he said, will come from another source.

Insitu's ScanEagle after a recent drug interdiction mission. The US Coast Guard expects to release its RFP for its small unmanned aerial system for NSC programme in three to six weeks. (Insitu)Insitu's ScanEagle after a recent drug interdiction mission. The US Coast Guard expects to release its RFP for its small unmanned aerial system for NSC programme in three to six weeks. (Insitu)

The USCG, he said, is not acquiring actual aircraft, but services. Lt Cdr Sullens said acquisition funding will be used on ship infrastructure installation such as antennas, antenna platforms, and building out hangars.

Insitu will offer a new heavy fuel engine on its ScanEagle endurance mini-UAS for the competition. Donald Williamson, Insitu Defense vice-president and general manager, told Jane’s on 9 January that this engine, called N20 and developed by Australia’s Orbital UAVE, flew operationally on ScanEagle in US Central Command (USCENTCOM) in December 2017 and has roughly 500 hours of flight on the vehicle.

The engine, he said, also has about 13,000 hours of lab testing and roughly 1,000 flight hours. This engine, Williamson said, is purposely designed for high revolutions-per-minute (rpm) small UAS like ScanEagle, which weighs between 45 and 55 lbs.

This engine uses Jet A, Jet A1, JP5, and JP8 fuels and features a gross shaft power of 2.4 kW at 6,500 rpm. It has a speed rating of 3,000–65,000 rpm and a 50cc, single cylinder, spark-ignited, two-stroke engine.

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