MQ-4C Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS)
RQ-4A Broad Area Maritime Surveillance - Demonstrator (BAMS-D)
Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS)
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.
The MQ-4C Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) System is an adjunct to the P-8A Multi-Mission Aircraft (MMA). The MQ-4C's persistence, combined with networked sensor data, will enable the unmanned aircraft family of systems to meet requirements more effectively. As of January 2012, the MQ-4C was planned to be forward deployed, operating under the cognizance of the maritime patrol and reconnaissance force to leverage manpower, infrastructure, and expertise. This land-based system would provide persistent maritime reconnaissance and basic communications relay capabilities from 5 operational sites (orbits) worldwide in support of fleet commanders and coalition and joint forces.
As an adjunct to the P-8A, the BAMS UAS will provide combat information to operational and tactical users such as the Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG), Carrier Strike Group (CSG), and the Joint Forces Maritime Component Commander (JFMCC). B AMS UAS will provide intelligence preparation of the environment by providing a more continuous source of information to maintain the Common Operational and Tactical Picture (COTP) of the maritime battle space. Additionally, BAMS UAS-collected data posted to the Global Information Grid (GIG) will support a variety of intelligence activities and nodes. In a secondary role, the BAMS UAS will also be used alone or in conjunction with other assets to respond to theater-level operational or national strategic tasking.
The MQ-4C BAMS UAS air vehicle is based upon the United States Air Force RQ-4B Global Hawk, while its sensors are based upon components of (or entire systems) already fielded in the Department of Defense inventory. Along with the P-8A and the EP-X manned aircraft, the BAMS UAS is integral to the Navy's Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force (MPRF) Family of Systems airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance recapitalization strategy. The MPRF is the operational agent for the BAMS UAS and Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Group is the fleet sponsor for the manned/unmanned integration concept. The BAMS UASís ability to perform persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance within a range of 2,000 nautical miles allows the P-8A and EP-X aircraft to focus on their core missions, Anti-Surface Ship Warfare/weapons employment and Multi-Intelligence operations respectively. The MPRF manned/unmanned Concept of Operations will also potentially leverage USAF RQ-4 cross-platform training, operational, basing and support synergies which will result in the most effective and efficient means of providing maritime ISR capability to the Fleet.
In 2006, as part of the BAMS development process, Naval Air Systems Command's (NAVAIR) Navy & Marine Corps Unmanned Air Systems (PMA-263) also acquired a number or RQ-4A aircraft as part of the Global Hawk Maritime Demonstration (GHMD) program for the development of Navy doctrine and concepts of operations for large persistent unmanned air vehicles. That system is sustained by the Persistent Maritime Unmanned Aircraft Systems (PMA-262) program office and was renamed the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance ó Demonstrator (BAMS-D). The BAMS-D team has utilized the RQ-4A long endurance air vehicle to refine tactics, techniques and procedures for use in a maritime environment.
The BAMS-D RQ-4A Global Hawk air vehicle can soar nearly 11 miles above the ground or up to 60,000 feet. The high-flying aerial vehicle can fly persistently for more than 30 hours above most weather. Imagery and other data obtained by the aircraft feeds by satellite into the Navy ground segment consisting of a mission control element, a launch and recovery element, and a Navy-designed Tactical Auxiliary Ground Station . Flown by Navy and Navy contractor pilots, the asset is controlled from Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.