Author:Chaves, W.G.
Position:Coast Guard Research and Development Center

The Coast Guard Research, Development, Test and Evaluation program is constantly exploring innovative new technologies to enhance enterprise-wide capability and serve as force multipliers for Coast Guard operators.

In alignment with Coast Guard strategic priorities, the program focuses on executing projects that will successfully transition from R&D into ways and means of enhancing Coast Guard missions.

The program's number one R&D "big bet" is continuing strategic research investments in unmanned surface, subsurface and aerial systems. To explore these high-risk, high-reward technologies, the program collaborates with multiple partners including the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, Customs and Border Protection, and the Air Force, Army and Marine Corps.

At the Research and Development Center in New London, Connecticut, current research in this domain spans exploration and evaluation of unmanned surface vehicles, unmanned underwater vehicles and unmanned air systems across all Coast Guard mission areas.

Impacts from unmanned system capabilities could have wide-ranging effects on the Coast Guard and the nation, including increased security in the Western Hemisphere, a top priority for Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl L. Schultz. (See interview page 22)

In his "Commandant's Guiding Principles," Schultz calls on the Coast Guard to continue its lead role in combatting transnational crime in the Western Hemisphere; unmanned technologies could be key in providing the persistent maritime domain awareness necessary to help disrupt transnational criminal networks.

Unmanned technologies also hold the potential for greater situational awareness and extended communication capabilities in the Arctic.

The Coast Guard is a relatively small service with limited resources. However, the area of responsibility is vast, and includes the largest exclusive economic zone in the world, comprising 3.4 million square miles of ocean and more than 90,000 miles of coastline. Unmanned systems have the power to extend presence far beyond the reach of traditional assets, allowing for more comprehensive patrolling of this vast area of responsibility.

Unmanned systems could also allow the Coast Guard to...

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