The guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG 72) (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jason R. Zalasky /Released)
January 30, 2009 -- The guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG 72) brings an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capability to Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, which enhances the counterpiracy task force's effectiveness.
This UAV supports the CTF 151 counterpiracy mission by providing maritime surveillance and cueing on suspicious activity.
"This is a significant step forward and is reflective of the increased use of UAVs across the spectrum of military operations," said Cmdr. Steve Murphy, Mahan's commanding officer.
The unique attributes of a UAV – namely the ability to stay airborne for long periods and cover hundreds of square miles of ocean during the course of one mission, all the while sending imagery in real time back to Mahan and other assets in the task force – provide a significant tactical advantage.
"It can fly day or night in a covert or overt posture, making it much harder for pirates to hide" said Murphy.
"It is also important to note that the images and information obtained [by the UAV] at sea is shared with our coalition partners, thereby improving overall mission effectiveness and strengthening key partnerships between navies."
As part of Combined Task Force 151 Mahan is coordinating and deconflicting counterpiracy efforts with approximately 14 nations also operating in the Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea.
Taken in context with other aircraft and ships operating in the area, the UAV is considered by Murphy and other leaders in the task force as a force multiplier. The information the UAV generates also helps CTF 151's leadership determine where to position all available units.
"It provides high quality imagery in real time, speeding decision making and is a significant advantage in stopping piracy on the high seas," said Murphy. "It is versatile and very responsive, able to change operating areas and change missions in mid-flight."
Mahan has integrated the UAV into every mission it has conducted while on deployment, gathering valuable information on maritime traffic patterns and the patterns of those suspected to be involved in illicit activity.
According to Murphy, it also helps protect the ship and crew, providing extended surveillance and early indications of potential threats.
"[The UAV] has great significance as a developing effort to apply 21st century technology to the 21st century challenges that our Navy faces."
The civilian and Sailor team operating the unmanned aerial vehicle on Mahan is documenting lessons learned during this mission and throughout the ship's deployment. This information is expected to contribute to the U.S. Navy's plans for the future of UAVs at sea. (navy.mil)
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