Reference Work Entry

Handbook of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

pp 2787-2811


Unmanned Aircraft Systems for Maritime Operations

  • J. B. de SousaAffiliated withDepartment of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Porto Email author 
  • , Philip McGuillivaryAffiliated withUnited States Coast Guard, PACAREA Science Liaison
  • , João VicenteAffiliated withPortuguese Joint Command and Staff College∕Security and Defense Research Center
  • , Maria Nunes BentoAffiliated withCentro de Investigação, Academia da Força Aérea
  • , José A. P. MorgadoAffiliated withCentro de Investigação, Academia da Força Aérea
  • , Maria Madruga MatosAffiliated withCentro de Investigação, Academia da Força Aérea
  • , Ricardo Ayres Gomes BencatelAffiliated withAerospace Engineering Department, University of Michigan
  • , Paulo Mónica de OliveiraAffiliated withInstituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera


Current practices and major trends in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for maritime operations are presented along with projections of future UAS maritime applications. First, various aspects of UAS program management, including organization, operator responsibilities, program operation, and overall program costs, are reviewed. Next, maritime aircraft missions and required capabilities are outlined, and current practices for both manned and unmanned aircraft are described. Technological trends relating to UAS are also discussed, focusing on developments relevant to maritime UAS operations. This information provides a background for assessing potential future maritime UAS operations. Trends including miniaturization of sensors and computer systems, high energy density of power sources, and increased subsystem standardization and modularity will have important effects in the future. However, another significant trend is towards increased system autonomy via new command and control frameworks that facilitate integration of UAS into higher level maritime observing systems through new concepts of operation for networked systems and new business models.