The Japan Coast Guard will add two more drones to its fleet of SeaGuardian unmanned aerial vehicles. The aircraft will be used to spot foreign fishing boats and unidentified vessels operating illegally in Japan's exclusive economic zone. The government included funding for the additional drones in the fiscal 2023 draft budget.
The Japan Coast Guard (JCG), which started flight operations last month to improve maritime monitoring, revealed a new surveillance drone to the media on November 17.
With a 24-metre wingspan, the 11.7 meter-long “MQ-9B SeaGuardian” was created by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. in the United States (GA-ASI). The JCG and the MSDF intend to operate the aircraft together. It is headquartered at the Hachinohe Air Base of the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) in the northern Japanese city of Hachinohe.
SeaGuardian Surveillance Drone By The Japan Coast Guard
The huge drone can fly continuously for up to 24 hours while collecting data with its cameras and infrared sensors. It will be used to monitor suspicious ships and conduct accident investigations. In addition, it can alert ships it encounters that are suspicious and is remotely operated from an operation centre manned by JCG officers.
The media was also given access to the SeaGuardian’s ground cockpit and the drone’s launch that day at the air base.
“Since the aircraft’s operation began on October 19, we have had no serious problems,” a JCG official said. “We feel confident about the outcomes of our maritime surveillance efforts in adjacent waters.”
SeaGuardian is the first RPAS in its class to offer real-time search and patrol above and below the ocean’s surface, and it integrates the most cutting-edge maritime intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.
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