Unmanned demo aircraft exceeds 10,000 combat flight hours
The US Navy’s unmanned RQ-4A broad area maritime surveillance demonstrator (BAMS-D) surpassed 10,000 flight hours in December 2013 in support of operations in the US Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility.
Now entering its sixth year of deployment, BAMS-D provides intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support to the fleet and is used to collect lessons learned for its successor, the MQ-4C Triton unmanned air system.
“This was originally intended to be a six-month concept demonstration,” said Capt. Jim Hoke, Programe Manager for the Persistent Maritime Unmanned Aircraft System programme office (PMA-262). “Six years later, the tempo of operations and demand for products from BAMS-D has remained steady and the deployment has been extended indefinitely.”
Flown by both Navy and contractor personnel, the asset is controlled from Patuxent River and operated under Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 2, Commander, Task Force 57 in theatre.
In a typical mission, the aircraft normally tracks surface shipping and images littoral targets of naval interest in the CENTCOM AOR, said Mike McDaniel, the former BAMS-D test director, who is now Triton’s test director. Within minutes, crew members analyse these tracks and images and then send them out to units worldwide.