Navy Deploys First BAMS System… to the UAE

The U.S. Navy made – with little fanfare – its first deployment of the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance, or BAMS, system earlier this month. What’s interesting about the deployment – of several RQ-4 “Global Hawk” UAVs – is that the airframes aren’t going to one of their original, intended bases – and, while nobody’s saying too much, probably won’t be fulfilling their intended role, either.

No, rather than monitoring shipping in the Mediterranean, or in the South Pacific, or a number of other areas, they’ve been deployed to al Dhafra Air Base, in the United Arab Emirates, which is home to a couple USAF units but, until now, apparently had no USN presence. When I first read of this, I was momentarily excited – al Dhafra is, for a Global Hawk, around three hours flying time from the Gulf of Aden, meaning that the anti-piracy efforts off the coast of Somalia could, finally, be getting high-availability aerial surveillance capabilities. Alas, that’s not, apparently, why these UAVs were deployed to the middle east. Rather, this was done to address an identified need “for increased intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets in Southwest Asia”, and there is no prize for guessing which country or countries these maritime surveillance aircraft will be operating over.

Ah, well. Maybe now that CTF 151 has apprehended their first pirates, and the USN is promoting their counter-piracy efforts (PDF!), someone will remember what those shiny new maritime surveillance aircraft were designed to do – or, more likely, not. C’est la guerre.

Published in: General | on February 12th, 2009| Comments Off on Navy Deploys First BAMS System… to the UAE

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