During his flying career with the U.S. Coast Guard, Ron Termain remember the specific mission when he had to rescue two divers around the Gulf of Mexico.
Termain saw a couple of dolphins, so he flew off thinking he was around the wrong area. The next day, the divers were rescued, and they explained how close Termain was from them.
“They told us, ‘You guys came down and hovered right next to us. You were right there! You pointed right at me and then you flew away. We thought you went to get a boat,’” Termain recalled.
After this mission, Termain, who is the business executive for Coast Guard affairs, spent the past eight years working with the Coast Guard to equip its national security cutters (NSC) with small unmanned aircraft systems.
If the Coast Guard would've access to an UAV with ViDAR sensor, he is confident he would have spotted the divers, instead of taking off.
“I flew with the Coast Guard for 23 years and I’m shocked at what drones and ViDAR sensors can do,” he said of the technology. “Being able to spot a person in the water over a mile away is beyond impressive. I don’t say it lightly when I say it’s a game-changer.”
By the end of the year, the coast guard is expected to issue a request for a proposal that will eventually lead to all its NSCs being equipped with small UAS.
Termain is hopeful that Insitu’s Scan Eagle will be the aircraft of choice. After all, the Scan Eagle has been tested and operationally demonstrated on Coast Guard cutters for the past several years.