KEY WEST, Fla. (NNS) -- High speed vessel USNS Swift (HSV-2) completed testing of the TIF-25K Aerostat (unmanned blimp) and a Puma unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and departed Key West for Operation Martillio, a Countering Transnational Organized Crime (C-TOC) mission in the U.S. 4th Fleet Area of Responsibility (AOR) May 1.
The Aerostat and UAV demonstrated their unique capabilities to Commander, U.S. 4th Fleet, Rear Admiral Sinclair Harris, as they could serve as future platforms to conduct counter illicit trafficking operations in the AOR.
"In the current fiscal environment, U.S. 4th Fleet is exploring innovative, cost effective solutions that can address the capability gaps caused by budget cuts. Aerostats and unmanned aircraft systems are platforms that warrant more research due to the benefits of enhanced fuel efficiency, payload capacity, and persistence," said Harris. "By leveraging the unique capabilities each platform has to offer, we can bring low-cost, high-tech tools to maintain a robust detection and monitoring mission for Operation Martillo."
The tethered Aerostat provides an aerodynamically stable, reliable and cost effective aerial platform for surveillance, monitoring and detection. The standard system configuration can fly 2,000 to 3,000 feet above the SWIFT and can deploy rapidly and safely.
The UAV delivers flexibility, endurance and a payload capability unmatched in its vehicle class. With a wingspan of 8.5 feet, this lightweight, hand-launched UAV provides aerial observation at line-of-sight ranges up to 10 kilometers. PUMA can be recovered in very tight areas using vertical descent Auto Land and is currently undergoing sea landing trials.
Operation Martillo - Spanish for "hammer"- is a U.S., European and Western Hemisphere partner nation effort targeting illicit trafficking routes in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus. U.S. military participation is being led by Joint Interagency Task Force South.
Operation Martillo is part of the U.S. government's coordinated regional security strategy in support of the White House strategy to combat transnational organized crime and the U.S. Central America Security Initiative.
Swift belongs to the Military Sealift Command's Prepositioning Program as a command-chartered, non-combatant high-speed vessel, providing Navy-specific service support on a variety of missions, including Southern Partnership Station, its final mission before going off-hire in 2013.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) supports U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.
For more news from U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/ .