Operationalizing UAS Aboard Navy and USCG Ships

Thumbnail Image
Bossuyt, Douglas Van
Hale, Britta
Lussier, Jonathan
Eilertsen, Charles R.
Greene, Allen J.
Loukas, Luke J.
VanWhy, Jacob A.
Coast Guard
Future Fleet
Small Boat
Date of Issue
October 2023
Monterey, California. Naval Postgraduate School
Uncrewed aerial system (UAS) technologies can serve as a force multiplier for United States Navy and United States Coast Guard (USCG) ships without organic aviation capabilities and may present cost savings by supplementing or replacing crewed aviation assets for limited mission sets. However, several challenges exist in understanding when and how to employ UAS on Navy and USCG vessels, especially for vessels without preexisting aviation capabilities. To meet the Chief of Naval Operation’s (CNO’s) 2045 hybrid fleet goal, the Navy and USCG must adapt a more flexible and scalable system for the integration and employment of UAS into fleet elements. This research investigates possible Concepts of Operation (CONOPS), returns on investment, employment strategies, and roles which UAS can perform. This research will attempt to answer the following questions: What CONOPS are possible when incorporating UAS on small and large Navy and USCG surface platforms? What is the return on investment using UAS versus crewed aircraft to execute Navy and USCG missions? What UAS employment strategies are appropriate for various vessel types based on launch and recovery capabilities? What roles can UAS realistically assume from crewed aircraft? The research plan is as follows: 1) Survey related literature on current UAS operations technologies and strategies aboard Navy and USCG ships, 2) Survey existing CONOPS and similar information for current UAS missions aboard Navy and USCG ships, 3) Identify potential future CONOPS for UAS missions aboard Navy and USCG ships, 4) Examine different missions UAS may perform from different Navy and USCG ships, 5) Conduct cross-analysis of existing capabilities and future requirements to determine gaps, and 6) Match potential UAS missions and platforms with different vessel types based on launch and recovery capabilities (both current and envisioned future capabilities). The following are the research deliverables: 1) Final report and presentation, 2) Quarterly in-progress reviews—a set of briefings for Topic Sponsor (PowerPoint slide sets), and 3) Research poster for annual Naval Research Working Group meeting at Naval Postgraduate School.
Prepared for: U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (USNAVSO). This research is supported by funding from the Naval Postgraduate School, Naval Research Program (PE 0605853N/2098). NRP Project ID: NPS-23-N008-A
Series/Report No
Systems Engineering (SE)
Naval Postgraduate School
NPS Report Number
Naval Postgraduate School, Naval Research Program; U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command Naval Station Mayport, Florida
Naval Postgraduate School, Naval Research Program (PE 0605853N/2098)
48 p.
Distribution Statement
Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.
This publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.