The Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Demonstrator (BAMS-D) returned from Fifth Fleet to Patuxent River June 17 after accruing more than 42,500 flight hours and over 2,000 oversea missions during a 13-year deployment. (Photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman).

Navy’s BAMS-D unmanned aircraft returns to U.S. after over decade-long deployment

The Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Demonstrator (BAMS-D) returned from Fifth Fleet to its home base at Pax River June 17, marking the end of a 13-year deployment, originally intended to be just six months.

The unmanned aircraft landed at Pax River shortly after 2:00 p.m. where the dedicated BAMS-D team of military, civilian and contractor personnel welcomed its arrival.

In 2009, the Navy deployed BAMS-D, a maritime variant of the Air Force Global Hawk, for a six-month concept demonstration in Fifth Fleet, but as demand overseas increased its mission was extended year-after-year. BAMS-D provided more than 50 percent of maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) in theater accruing over 42,500 flight hours in 2,069 overseas missions.  

“BAMS-D has been a singular force multiplier for Fifth Fleet and U.S. Central Command and has provided invaluable insights into the use of unmanned air systems as part of an overall concept of operations for naval ISR,” said Dave Seagle, BAMS-D deputy program manager.

Seagle, who has led the program since its inception, and his team at Pax River supported fleet operational requirements in theater while concurrently providing training and testing capabilities at Pax River.

By 2013, BAMS-D had ramped up its capabilities to fifteen 24-hour missions every month, supplementing its first deployed aircraft with a second aircraft. Through the next nine years, BAMS-D provided uninterrupted operations and collected almost 1.4 million ISR scenes, highlighted over 11,500 targets of interest and provided the fleet with over 15,000 tactical reports, becoming an indispensable asset for the warfighter.  One of many notable achievements occurred as recently as August 2021 when BAMS-D provided ISR coverage to non-combatant evacuation operations during the U.S. drawdown in Afghanistan, Seagle said.

“Despite the aging of the system and limited spares available, BAMS-D’s incredible operations and maintenance team achieved an overall mission availability rate of 96 percent, with more than 94 percent of scheduled missions completed,” said Seagle.

MQ-4C Triton is the Navy’s newest UAS platform that provides the fleet with a high-altitude, long-endurance system in the maritime domain.  It is currently being upgraded with a multi-intelligence capability that is expected to be fielded next year.


The Navy's Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Demonstrator (BAMS-D) team at Patuxent River celebrates the return of BAMS-D from Fifth Fleet to its home base at NAS Patuxent River June 17 marking the end of a 13-year deployment. (Photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman)

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