Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Ever-Expanding Mission Set of Naval Drones

Migrants rescued by the frigate Maestrale. Image courtesy Marina Militare.
Hardly a single naval mission area remains that has been untouched by unmanned systems of the air, surface, or undersea variety.  Most recently, Italy's navy announced that with the help of surveillance from an unmanned air system, 1,049 African migrants en route to Sicily had been rescued.   The ongoing rescue missions are part of Operation "Mare Nostrum"(Our Sea), which has been underway since last fall when over 400 migrants from Eritirea and Syria perished near Italy's coasts. Presumably, the drone the Italians referenced was the ScanEagle, which was initially evaluated for ship-board use in October 2010. Two systems each consisting of 5 fixed-wing aircraft were purchased to be employed by the Maestrale Class Frigate beginning this year.  The Italians also recently acquired the S-100 Camcopter, intended for counter-piracy duties in the Indian Ocean. 

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