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Surface Navy 2019: US government shutdown stalls ScanEagle rollout for Coast Guard

The partial shutdown of the US government is preventing the US Coast Guard (USCG) and Insitu from moving forward on the Small Unmanned Aerial System for National Security Cutter (SUAS for NSC) programme.

Ron Tremain, Insitu business development executive for civil and maritime industries, told Jane’s on 16 January that the shutdown is preventing the USCG from rescinding a previously issued stop-work order to the company to halt ScanEagle work on the programme. This, he said at the Surface Navy annual symposium, is because the contract officers who issued the order have been furloughed.

Payload nose of a ScanEagle A 15. (US Navy)

Payload nose of a ScanEagle A 15. (US Navy)

The USCG continues to perform operational missions deemed essential, but people working on these missions are unpaid until an appropriations bill is signed into law. Non-essential personnel are not working and not receiving wages. At the time of writing the USCG had not returned a request for comment on the status of the stop-work order.

In December 2018, prior to the shutdown, Insitu was selected as part of a corrective action by the USCG for the SUAS for NSC effort. The USCG awarded Insitu a contract in June potentially worth USD117 million to provide its ScanEagle unmanned aerial system (UAS) for the programme, which covers installation and deployment of the vehicle for roughly 200 hours per 30-day operational patrol period.

Under this award ScanEagle was to provide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) services for the entire NSC fleet. There are currently six national security cutters. A seventh, USCGC Kimball , was to be commissioned this month, but this has been postponed indefinitely due to the shutdown, according to a USCG spokesperson.

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