Textron Systems Corporation, a company of Textron, announced that its Aerosonde Uncrewed Aircraft System (UAS) aboard the USS Miguel Keith, which is designated as ESB 5, has taken its debut maritime flight.

This inaugural operational flight comes after a contract was awarded by the US Navy’s Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) in October 2022 for the delivery of uncrewed aviation support aboard the vessel for up to five years.

As part of the Forward Deployed Naval Force, the ESB 5 supports a wide range of aviation and military operations.

Textron Systems has been awarded the task of deploying its Aerosonde UAS to deliver extended-range intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) services with improved mission payloads aboard the ESB 5.

The firm’s field service representatives (FSR) will work alongside the ship’s sailors to deliver support for several maritime missions.

Textron Systems senior vice-president for Air Systems Wayne Prender said: “Having an unmanned aircraft system operational aboard the ship acting as a remote sensor contributes to overall maritime domain awareness and mission success.

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“The Aerosonde system is providing added reach beyond the horizon and an ability to operate multi-INT ISR consistently, both great examples of the benefits of teaming unmanned aircraft with manned ships.”

Besides the USS Miguel Keith, the Aerosonde uncrewed system supports maritime operations aboard the USS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams (ESB 4) and two DDG-class vessels.

In total, the uncrewed system supports four US Navy ships.

Equipped for multiple payload configurations and designed for expeditionary land- and sea-based operations in tough conditions, the Aerosonde system has accumulated over 600,000 flight hours while serving several customers in the US and international allies.