HM Coastguard is adding a new tool for its search and rescue missions, unmanned drones it plans to operate alongside the rescue helicopter and fixed-wing surveillance aircraft of its current teams. The first operational drone flight will join for the first time manned helicopters, planes, boats and rescue teams on the cliffs during rescue missions at sea and over land in North Wales, this summer.
The drone was initially tested a year ago and recently, during an operational integration training phase, the drone first flew in formation alongside the HM Coastguard S92 helicopter and the HM Coastguard King Air Surveillance Aircraft.
“Drones have the potential to help our Coast Guard teams save even more lives and it is right that we strive to advance these technologies here in the UK,” said the Minister for the Navy and Aviation, Robert Courts. “Ensuring the safety of people at sea and around our coasts will always be a priority, which is why we continue to explore new ways to modernize search and rescue efforts. “
HM Coastguard drones, helicopters and planes making their first formation flight in Wales (Ian Black, HM Coastguard, Bristow Helicopters, 2Excel Aviation)
Unmanned aircraft are expected to play a key role when HM Coastguard launches its second generation of search and rescue service, which is expected to begin operations in 2024. The first of the drones will fly from the HM Coastguard helicopter base in Caernarfon, in the north of Wales along the Irish Sea. Plans call for it to also participate in a series of major training exercises with other rescue teams as the Coast Guard prepares to expand the deployment of drone technology.
“It’s fantastic that this exciting new technology is first deployed in Wales, flying alongside rescue teams and adding another layer to HM Coastguard’s search and rescue capability,” said Secretary of State. ‘State of Wales, Simon Hart. “We look forward to a busy summer in the beautiful surroundings of North Wales and HM Coastguard plays a vital role in ensuring the safety of residents and visitors to the area.”
Bristow Helicopters, which will operate the drone for the Coast Guard, undertook two years of rigorous testing and testing, before presenting the drone for use from the Caernarfon base. In the first phase of its operations, the main role will be that of security surveillance and surveillance aircraft. This will allow manned helicopter crews to respond to rescue missions.