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MQ-4C Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS)
RQ-4A Broad Area Maritime Surveillance - Demonstrator (BAMS-D)
Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS)

Program History

The Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) UAV was intended to provide persistent, maritime surveillance and reconnaissance capability with worldwide access. The BAMS UAV would be a multi-mission intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance system to support strike, signals intelligence, and communications relay, while operating independently or in direct collaboration with other assets in the maritime environment. BAMS would operate at altitudes over 40,000 feet, above the weather and most air traffic to conduct continuous open-ocean and littoral surveillance of targets as small as exposed submarine periscopes. BAMS would be fully integrated into the joint intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance architecture, providing the information to the joint force in near real time. Long-endurance BAMS UAVs would be able to provide a continuous on-station presence at ranges of 1,000-3,000 nautical miles from the launch point. BAMS would thus play a key role in providing the commander with a persistent, reliable picture of surface threats while minimizing the need to put manned assets in harms way to execute surveillance and reconnaissance tasks.

BAMS, as planned, would be complemented by the Maritime Multi-Mission Aircraft (MMA) for special purpose, generally lower-altitude missions and by the Vertical Takeoff UAV (VTUAV) operating from the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) to ID contacts with electro-optical/infra-red sensors. The Navy's BAMS UAV would address a persistent Maritime Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) mission area of the Naval UAV Strategy.

The program planned to collocate BAMS UAS mission crews with Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance (MPR) Forces to allow operators to closely coordinate missions and utilize common support infrastructure. BAMS UAS would share its persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance role with the MMA. The MMA was planned as a fallback program to the BAMS UAS, and according to the Navy, the overall cost of the MMA program would increase due to a need to procure additional aircraft.

BAMS would function as an enabling force to the Fleet commander. The draft BAMS UAV Concept of Operations (CONOPS) suggested that a persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance UAV would enhance battle space awareness through imagery, SAR/ISAR, strip mapping. The BAMS UAV would act as an information hub and operate in direct collaboration with other manned and unmanned airborne and space-based intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance platforms to support the employment of naval forces in both the planning and execution phases of contingency operations. It would be fully interoperable with manned assets, other intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance platforms, and intelligence exploitation systems to achieve the highest predictive battle space awareness.

The program goal was to provide a BAMS UAV to fleet commanders continuously throughout the world. A 24-hour coverage could potentially be sustained for a Carrier Battle Group or Amphibious Ready Group's entire deployment. Battle Group commanders would utilize the BAMS UAV for sea control missions and strike support missions as appropriate.

The BAMS UAV program was planned to enter System Development and Demonstration (SDD) in FY05. Through low-rate initial production the service planned to spend about $1.3 billion on the effort. The Navy initially anticipated and initial operating capability in FY09. In support of Milestone B, the Government intended to release the final request for proposals in early summer 2004.

The BAMS UAV System draft Statement of Objectives (SOO), draft Performance Based Specification (PBS), and draft Operational Requirements Document (ORD), would be provided as reference material for respondents to utilize during their investigation and planning. These documents were considered "draft" and expected to change. For the purposes of the Request for Information, the draft ORD was reference material only and paragraphs discussing Signal Intelligence (SIGINT), Level IV Shipboard capability and Communications and Data Relay were considered objectives and not thresholds.

In May 2002 the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), Patuxent River, Maryland, issued an order under Basic Ordering Agreement, N00019-02-G-0350, on a sole source basis with Raytheon Company in support of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Tactical Control Systems (TCS) program. The order consisted of the performance of studies and design analysis in support of the Phase I and Phase II Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) program. The near term objective was to develop an interface device that will allow a level 2 communication between the Mission Control Element (MCE) and the Tactical Support Center (TSC) for the Global Hawk Demonstration Program. In the development of the interface device, a Tactical Control System (TCS) product, it was the Navy's goal to reuse as much of the TCS software (Block 2 Version 2) as practical and to identify feasible changes to the TSC and/or TCS for the optimum interface. The long term goal was to achieve a fully integrated and seamless TCS/TSC system, which would be used by the future BAMS UAV. The future TCS/TSC system was envisioned to provide level 4 UAV control. The purpose of the BOA study was to determine the feasibility and options for the fully integrated TCS/TSC. Successful completion of the effort requires intimate knowledge of the TCS core hardware and software, various UAV related systems and the relationship of UAVs within the air reconnaissance architecture. The Raytheon Company was the only known source that possesses the peculiar engineering data, knowledge of TCS design and operation requirements, capability, and expertise required to successfully provide these supplies and services in an accurate and timely manner. The estimated period of performance was July 2002 to January 2003.

On 17 December 17 2002, NAVAIR and OPNAV officials hosted over 150 industry representatives as part of the overall acquisition strategy. In July 2003 Northrop Grumman Corporation's Defensive Systems Division and Sonoma Design Group signed a teaming agreement for the design and production of a high-performance electro-optic and infrared system for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and targeting for specified business opportunities. The system, called the Night Hunter II, combined Northrop Grumman's sensor and processing capabilities with Sonoma Design's high-performance gimbal technologies. Night Hunter II incorporated elements from several existing Northrop Grumman programs, including the Night Hunter electro-optical surveillance system, the LITENING advanced targeting pod, and the distributed aperture system thermal imaging system developed for the Joint Strike Fighter. The Night Hunter II was designed to be optimized for passive imaging at standoff ranges in both the visible and IR regions. Some of the system's key capabilities include a largest-in-class aperture of 11 inches in a 21-inch lightweight turret; search, auto detect and track modes; superior pointing stability over the full 360-degree range; support for the laser ranging and designation for targeting of the latest laser-guided or global positioning system-guided weapons; and a scalable design that uses common gimbal architecture. This versatile turret design would accommodate up to six sensors for improved performance and flexibility. Night Hunter II's open and modular architecture and large available sensor volume gives the system excellent growth potential. Night Hunter II's lightweight and low sensor placement offered ease of installation into platforms such as those under evaluation for the US Navy's MMA and BAMS programs.

In early 2004, resisting pressure from the Air Force to choose the Global Hawk, the Navy had announced that it was going to proceed with its own acquisition plan. Northrop Grumman proposed a version of the Global Hawk that would stay at altitudes of 60,000 feet. Lockheed Martin's Mariner offered a melding of the General Atomics Predator B fuselage with the 86-foot wings of the Altair in order to achieve the altitude and range required by a BAMS aircraft. Mariner would patrol at 50,000 feet, but descend below cloud cover to use electro-optical and infrared sensors. The Navy envisioned a 3-way competition that would include General Dynamics' unmanned G550, an unmanned version of the Gulfstream 550.

It was decided that in FY05 that 2 Global Hawk Maritime Demonstration vehicles (GHMD) would be procured from the Air Force for maritime CONOPS development, sensor technology experimentation, and fleet orientation prior to the planned introduction of the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance UAV in FY09. The demonstration (which was subsequently renamed BAMS-Demostrator or BAMS-D), separate from the main BAMS program, fit within the chief of naval operations' Sea Trial concept of experimentation. By November 2006, the BAMS-D fleet of RQ-4A aircraft from the US Air Force had increased to 5 total.

In May 2004 Raytheon Company successfully integrated and demonstrated its SeaVue maritime surveillance radar and AN/AAS-52 Multi-spectral Targeting System (MTS-A) aboard a General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Mariner unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), a derivative of the Generals Atomics Predator B UAV. In order to meet an important demonstration request, Raytheon installed and integrated the SeaVue and MTS-A mission systems, and then performed the necessary flight verification tests in only three weeks. In addition to demonstrating the Mariner UAV's performance and operational flexibility at various altitudes, the flight highlighted the sensors' combined maritime surveillance capabilities and network connectivity when operating together on one platform. The flight demonstrated many of the capabilities outlined in the US Navy's Broad Area Maritime Surveillance requirement. The SeaVue family of radars is designed to detect small maritime targets in high seas and provide superior maritime situational awareness. The system's flexible architecture would enable it to meet a wide variety of surveillance requirements and support multiple missions. Depending on the configuration, typical missions include maritime surface search and target tracking, ship imaging and classification, overland mapping, search and rescue, weather avoidance and navigation, harbor and economic zone surveillance, and environmental monitoring such as oil spill detection and ice flow mapping. SeaVue was designed as a light weight, low cost, surveillance radar that can be easily installed on smaller aircraft, helicopters, and unmanned vehicles.

By 2006 the US Navy had stated that it wanted to procure a total of 110 BAMS UAVs. Potential competitors at the time included the Global Hawk and the Mariner (a maritime version of the Predator B UAV). The Navy's FY07-FY11 aircraft procurement plan called for procuring the first four BAMS UAVs in FY11. The first BAMSs were then expected to enter service in 2013.

As of March 2006 the BAMS UAV development start and initial operations capability had been delayed 18 months and three years respectively. If the BAMS UAV did not develop as planned or continues to experience schedule delays, the MMA was said to be its fallback and according to the Navy's analysis, the overall cost of the program would increase due to a need to procure additional MMA aircraft. In addition, a third element planned for the BAMS family of systems was the ACS. The ACS was intended to replace three current systems: the Army's Guardrail Common Sensor, Airborne Reconnaissance Low, and the Navy's EP-3. However, DoD issued a stop-work order to the ACS program prime contractor in September 2005 and terminated the contract in January 2006, because the airframe selected for the ACS could not accommodate the intended ACS mission equipment. Decisions concerning the ACS program that had not been made would determine whether the Navy participates in a future ACS program. In April 2006 it was also reported that the Navy was likely to have at least drafted requests for proposals for BAMS by October or November of that year. According to BAMS UAS officials, problems with the ACS had not affected the BAMS UAS program and future spirals could include planned ACS capabilities such as signals intelligence.

As of March 2007, program development for the BAMS was scheduled to begin in October of that year, well after the initially planned timetable which had development commencing in the first quarter FY05. The US Navy decided not to allocate any funds to the BAMS program in FY06, pushing the proposed operational capability date back from 2010 to 2013. The source selection period, where program officers would designate critical technologies was scheduled for April through September 2007. Program officers are looking to only select technologies that are mature or approaching maturity prior to the development period in an attempt to shorten development time and reduce cost. In order to do this the Navy engaged industry in support of developing unmanned ISR mission performance metrics and capabilities within a family of systems, as well as, to gain insight into the state of industry research and technology. This was facilitated by the awarding of four contracts using a broad agency announcement in conjunction with the US Navy's Persistent Unmanned Maritime Airborne Surveillance (PUMAS) program. BAMS UAS program received the study results and hoped to use the information to develop technical baselines and assess program risks. In addition, the Navy was using its 2 Global Hawk Maritime Demonstration (GHMD) UAS to provide a rapid technology demonstration capability. GHMD data and test results were being used to refine BAMS UAS doctrine, CONOPS, tactics, techniques, and procedures.

The GAO reported in March 2008 that the BAMS UAS program planned to begin system development during the second quarter of FY08. The program was at the time evaluating proposals for source selection and developing documents to meet formal design decision requirements. The program previously planned to start system development by October 2007, but according to a program official, additional time was needed to evaluate contractor proposals. Program officials indicated that the system development solicitation requires critical technologies to be demonstrated in a relevant environment prior to contract award. The program was conducting a technology readiness assessment in parallel with source selection. BAMS UAS initial operational capability had also been delayed from FY13 to the last quarter of FY14.

BAMS UAS was working to evaluate technologies prior to the start of system development. As part of the previous Persistent Unmanned Maritime Airborne Surveillance effort, the program awarded contracts to develop mission performance metrics and determine capabilities necessary for optimal performance of the maritime intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance mission within a family of systems.

Program officials were requiring contractors to identify critical technologies in their proposals as part of source selection. According to program officials, critical technologies had to be approaching maturity and demonstrated in a relevant environment prior to the start of system development.

BAMS UAS was intended to serve as an adjunct to the Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA). The Navy intended to position BAMS UAS mission crews with maritime patrol and reconnaissance forces personnel to allow operators to closely coordinate missions and utilize a common support infrastructure. If BAMS UAS did not develop as planned or continued to experience schedule delays, Navy officials stated that additional MMA would be purchased as a fallback, increasing the overall cost of the MMA program.

The Navy's future EP-X electronic surveillance aircraft was also intended to be a part of the maritime patrol and reconnaissance forces family of systems as a replacement for the Navy's current airborne intelligence platform, the EP-3. According to BAMS UAS officials, the EP-X schedule would not affect the BAMS UAS program.

DOD was continuing to exchange information and coordinate with allied and friendly nations that had common maritime surveillance goals and objectives. Program officials indicated that Australia was participating in BAMS UAS pre-system development activities and had provided specific requirements that were included in the BAMS UAS solicitation as an option. Australia had also expressed interest in participating in the system development and demonstration phase of the program.

On 22 April 2008 the Department of the Navy announced that the Northrop Grumman Corp. had been awarded the system development and Demonstration (SDD) contract for the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Unmanned Aircraft System (BAMS UAS). The BAMS UAS contract award was the culmination of a year-long source selection process since the Navy received industry proposals in May 2007. The $1.16 billion cost-plus-award-fee contract was to develop a persistent maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) data collection and dissemination capability that fulfilled the maritime war fighter's requirement for continuous battle-space awareness. The BAMS UAS would be developed using Northrop Grumman's RQ-4N platform.

The April 2008 contract announcement represented the Navy's largest investment in unmanned aircraft systems to date. The extraordinary efforts leading to this announcement helped the BAMS UAS program begin to develop a persistent ISR capability never before available to the fleet according to Captain Bob Dishman, program manager for the BAMS UAS program. "This is a significant milestone for the BAMS UAS program, concluding a deliberate and meticulous source selection process that adhered to stringent Federal Acquisition Regulation and Naval Air System Command source selection processes and documentation requirements."

BAMS-D successfully completed its first Navy split-site deployment in support of the Trident Warrior 08 and RIMPAC exercises. An aircraft, shelter and personnel were located in Point Mugu, California, while mission command, control and execution remained at Patuxent River, Maryland. BAMS-D subsequently supported real-world operations under US Northern Command (NORTHCOM), providing reconnaissance of wildfires in the rugged coastal mountains of California. Later tasking placed BAMS-D along the US Gulf Coast to assess the damage left by Hurricane Ike in 2008. Despite challenging weather conditions remaining after the storm, BAMS-D sensor imagery aided first responders in Louisiana and Texas to most efficiently deploy their resources in the massive relief effort. BAMS-D was also used to develop methods for integrating the Automatic Identification System into Fleet operations. Experimentation using BAMS-D also benefited the Naval Sea Systems Command Ocean Surveillance Initiative and Oceanographer of the Navy office activities assessing usefulness of long-endurance, high-altitude unmanned systems in collecting Fleet-relevant meteorological data.

Beginning in mid-December 2008, in response to a Secretary of Defense Deployment Order, BAMS-D dispatched a portion of its system in support of the Warfighter as part of an active Navy maritime patrol unit. Over the course of eight months, BAMS-D flew over 800 combat hours in support of the US Fifth Fleet as part Operation Ocean Look. During that time, BAMS-D has continued to collect lessons learned for BAMS UAS and the Navy intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance family of systems in an operational arena—while maintaining the capability for experimentation and demonstration at NAS Patuxent River.

As of the beginning of 2009, the Navy's RQ-4A BAMS-D was directed by Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 5, and was expected to transition to Wing 2 in September 2009. The BAMS-D team continued to support Fleet operational requirements in theater, while concurrently providing training and testing capabilities at Patuxent River, Maryland.

The main BAMS UAS program successfully conducted its System Functional Review (SFR) in June 2009 and progressed toward future program milestones utilizing the Systems Engineering Technical Review (SETR) process. SDD aircraft delivery was anticipated in 2012 at that time with Initial Operational Capability planned for 2015.

The MQ-4C BAMS completed its critical design review in February 2011. As of January 2012, its initial operational capability was scheduled for fiscal year 2016 (one orbit); full operational capability is scheduled for fiscal year 2020 (5 orbits). By June 2012, the RQ-4A BAMS-D aircraft continued to support more than 50 percent of maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in theater and had flown more than 5,500 combat hours in support of combat operations since 2008. BAMS-D also continued to collect lessons learned for the MQ-4C BAMS Unmanned Aircraft System and the Navy Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance family of systems in an operational arena.

On 11 June 2012, an RQ-4A BAMS Demonstrator (BAMS-D) aircraft, being tested by the US Navy at the time, crashed near Bloodworth Island in Dorchester County, Marlyand, approximately 22 miles east of Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, where the aircraft was based. No injuries or property damage were reported, as the aircraft had crashed in an unpopulated swampy area. A Navy F/A-18 aircraft made visual confirmation of the crash and Navy and regional authorities quickly responded to the crash scene, where cleanup of the site was conducted. The aircraft was one of 5 acquired from the US Air Force's Global Hawk program. The cause of the crash was not initially known, but an investigation was underway.

On September 27, 2016 Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., San Diego, California, was awarded $255,256,728 for fixed-price incentive (firm target) modification P00009 to a previously awarded advance acquisition contract (N00019-15-C-0002) for the procurement three low-rate initial production Lot 1 MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft, one main operation control station and one forward operation control station, training courseware, and tooling. Work will be performed in San Diego, California (30 percent); Baltimore, Maryland (12.6 percent); Palmdale, California (10.6 percent); Salt Lake City, Utah (10 percent); Red Oak, Texas (8 percent); Moss Point, Mississippi (3.9 percent); Indianapolis, Indiana (3.8 percent); San Diego, California (3.6 percent); Bridgeport, West Virginia (3 percent); Santa Clarita, California (1.6 percent); Montreal, Quebec, Canada (0.6 percent); Vandalia, Ohio (0.6 percent); Medford, New York (0.5 percent); and various locations within the U.S. (11.2 percent), and is expected to be completed in August 2020. Fiscal 2016 aircraft procurement (Navy) funds in the amount of $255,256,728 will be obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity.

The Triton program is on track to meet IOC in 30 FY 2021. During this reporting period, the Triton program continued the operational test period (0T-C1) of Integrated Functional Capability (IFC) 3 in a phased (crawl, walk, run) approach. The crawl phase was initiated on February 16, 2018 at the Patuxent River, MD test facilities. A series of ground tests and seven test flights were conducted with the IFC 3 software build as part of the OT-C1 crawl and walk phases. In September 2018, led by the VUP-19 and VX-1 test squadrons, the OT-C1 run phase began in Pt. Mugu with two Triton aircraft to engage in operational test for early operational capability (EOC) preparations.

The first operational test flight occurred on September 5, 2018 in Pt. Mugu. On September 12, 2018, during the fourth of nine routine test flights, one aircraft (B-6) was involved in a Class A mishap. The Aircraft Mishap Board (AMB) completed the mishap investigation report in December 2018 and identified a non-systemic material failure. Triton's Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization and training have been modified as a result of the AMB report findings. On December 18, 2018, Triton returned to flight test. IFC 4 developmental activities have not been impacted by the mishap. The IFC 3.2 software build will be provided to the fleet in 2019 and includes sensor enhancements, Link-16 capability, and interoperability functionality. The Patuxent River Main Operating Base (MOB) completed DD-250 in September 2018 and was loaded with 3.2 software in support of testing prior to fleet release in support of EOC.

Since the April 16, 2018 ADM, the Triton program has progressed with Multi-Intelligence IFC 4 development. The IFC 4 hardware and software build will bring a multi-mission sensor capability to replace the aging EP-3 platform as part of the Navy's Maritime Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance, and Targeting transition plan. The LRIP 4 contract is currently in technical review and evaluation, with an anticipated award in 20 FY 2019. The Triton program is on track for FRP decision.

The United States of America and Commonwealth of Australia entered into a Cooperative Partnership under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the Development, Production, and Sustainment of MQ-4C Triton UAS; this was signed on June 19, 2018. The first executive steering committee was completed in October 2018. Currently, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has Australian Department of Defense approval to procure one aircraft and all ground stations within the scope of the MOU; the Capability Acquisition Sustainment Group supporting the RAAF procurement of Triton plans to return to Government for approval to procure the next aircraft. When appropriate, the results of this approval will be shared with the PMA-262 team.

The Navy conducted its first test flight of the MQ-4C Triton in its upgraded hardware and software configuration 29 July 2021 at NAS Patuxent River, beginning the next phase of the unmanned aircraft’s development. The MQ-4C Triton flew in its new configuration, known as Integrated Functional Capability (IFC)-4, which will bring an enhanced multi-mission sensor capability as part of the Navy’s Maritime Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Targeting (MISR&T) transition plan. Triton's Integrated Test Team (ITT) comprised of the U.S. Navy, Australian cooperative partners, and government/industry teams completed a functional check flight and initial aeromechanical test points, demonstrating stability and control of the MQ-4C after a 30-month modification period.

“Today’s flight is a significant milestone for the program and a testament to the resolve of the entire ITT, their hard work, and passion for test execution and program success,” said Capt. Dan Mackin, Persistent Maritime Unmanned Aircraft Systems program manager. “This flight proves that the program is making significant progress toward Triton’s advanced multi-intelligence upgrade and it brings us closer to achieving the initial operational capability (IOC) milestone.”

Multiple Triton assets had been modified into the IFC-4 configuration in support of IOC in 2023. A single test asset is in the current IFC-3 configuration to support sustainment of deployed systems as well as risk reduction for IFC-4. Two MQ-4C Triton aircraft in the baseline configuration known as IFC-3 were forward deployed to 7th Fleet in support of early operational capability (EOC) and Commander Task Force (CTF)-72 tasking. VUP-19 will operate Triton to further develop the concept of operations and fleet learning associated with operating a high-altitude, long-endurance system in the maritime domain.

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Page last modified: 30-07-2021 18:05:50 ZULU