UK to trial drones for coastal search and rescue

Harry Lye 7 February 2020 (Last Updated February 7th, 2020 12:42)

The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) plans to conduct demonstration flights using Elbit Systems UK’s Hermes 900 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

UK to trial drones for coastal search and rescue
Elbit Hermes 900 UAV. Credits: Elbit Systems UK.

The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) plans to conduct demonstration flights using Elbit Systems UK’s Hermes 900 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

The MCA will use the Elbit UAVs among others in trials to demonstrate how unmanned systems can be deployed effectively in civilian airspace using a range of sensors.

The Hermes 900 UAV is designed for operations along coastlines or in open water and features a maritime radar, electro-optic payload, satellite communication, automatic identification system receiver and an emergency position-indicating radio beacon receiver allowing it to detect and locate a number of systems in the water.

In a press release, Elbit said that the UAV would enable the UK to perform persistent monitoring of large stretches of the UK coastline and support other operations such as locating potentially hazardous environments and search and rescue missions.

The trials will also see the MCA test the smaller, person-launched, Skylark I-LEX UAV, which is designed to provide ‘beyond the next hill’ reconnaissance.

Elbit Systems UK CEO Martin Fausset said: “We are proud to partner with the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency on this valuable demonstration of the wide range of unmanned capabilities Elbit Systems UK can offer.

“We look forward to providing the best possible support for the lifesaving work of the MCA. This is the latest example of how Elbit Systems UK is delivering proven technologies to support operational needs of UK customers.”

Ultimately the UAVS are designed to help the MCA its HM Coastguard section provide a 24-hour maritime search and rescue capability within UK waters.

UK Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani said: “Drone technology has enormous potential for our search and rescue teams, who save lives 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“This ground-breaking project will not only hope to boost the capabilities of our already fantastic teams but will also boost our ability to spot pollution hazards and protect our precious marine environment.”