The US navy is receiving its newest UAV, the MQ-4C Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) Triton. The airframe may look familiar – it’s based on the Global Hawk – but this drone has sensors that could revolutionise naval warfare. By Joe Pappalardo
Drones going domestic
Civilian, military and law-enforcement UAVs will soon be allowed access to US airspace. Here’s where the regulations stand:
14 Feb 2012
Congress mandates that by 2015 the FAA figure out how unmanned aerial vehicles can operate in national airspace.
14 May 2012
The Department of Transportation (DOT) forges agreements with government agencies to expedite the licensure of government drones.
12 Aug 2012
The secretary of transportation determines which types of government and non-government craft can operate in the national airspace.
10 Nov 2012
DOT issues guidance regarding the operation and FAA authorisation of government- owned drones.
14 Aug 2014
DOT publishes a final rule that allows small nongovernment drones to operate in US airspace.
14 Dec 2015
The FAA develops and implements final operational and certification requirements for the use of all kinds and sizes of domestic UAVs.
Spinning Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar
AESA radars can cover hundreds of kilometres, but this one spins, so there are no blind spots. The radar has modes that can search the surface or track ships.
Day/night cameras are used for target tracking and taking high-resolution video.
Due Regard radar is a step toward “sense and avoid” technology that is needed to operate UAVs in national airspace (see below).
Automatic Identification System (AIS) Receiver
AIS data, using onboard sensors, detail the identity, speed and previous track of any vessel in real time for users on the ground.