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.

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