US Coast Guard requests long-endurance UAV to counter drug and migrant smuggling

The US Coast Guard issued a request for demonstrations of long-range, ultra-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles to conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions in US coastal transit zones that are highly trafficked by illegal drug and migrant smugglers.

The requested drone would be land-based, must have the ability to fly for more than 24h and a service ceiling of 15,000ft above sea level, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s RFP. The UAV’s sensor payload must be able to discern activity associated with drug and migrant smuggling aboard anchored and moving maritime targets.

US coastal transit zones includes the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern Pacific Ocean – areas amounting to seven million square miles of water, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

To surveil these regions, the US Coast Guard is looking for an aircraft with a patrol airspeed of at least 50kt (93km/h). It must also include maritime payloads such as an electro-optical and infrared full motion video system, a maritime surveillance radar, a radio frequency and direction finding sensor, and a tactical communications radio and data link.

The Coast Guard is looking for responses by 5 June.