June 15, 2012 10:05 PM - Updated: January 15, 2013 1:55 PM

One of the U.S. Navy’s largest and most expensive unmanned aerial vehicles crashed in the Chesapeake Bay under unknown circumstances early Monday afternoon. The downed $180 million RQ-4A Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Demonstrator (BAMS-D) is one of five modified U.S. Air Force Global Hawk UAVs the Navy is testing ahead of an estimated $40 billion program that the Navy says will greatly improve its maritime domain awareness. Under Secretary of the Navy Bob Work said the inclusion of BAMS into the fleet would mitigate the need for a large surface fleet for maritime domain awareness.”Everyone focuses on whether there are going to be 313 ships or 310,” he said on Jan. 12 in Jane’s Defence Weekly. “I say, who cares? I’ve got BAMS. [Its surveillance coverage] is a lot bigger than a 600-ship navy.”

US Navy Photo

Primary Function: Specifically tailored for maritime and littoral intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. The BAMS-D system currently consists of two Block 10 RQ-4A air vehicles, one Mission Control Element (MCE), two Launch and Recovery Elements (LRE) plus one Tactical Auxiliary Ground Station (TAGS).
Contractor: Northrop Grumman
Date Deployed: January 2009
Propulsion: 1 Rolls-Royce AE3007H turbofan
Endurance: 31 hours (with reserves)
Length: 44.0 feet (13.4 meters)
Wingspan: 116 feet (35.4 meters)
Height: 15.2 feet (4.6 meters)
Weight: Max design gross take-off: 25,600 pounds (11,612 kilograms)
Airspeed: 340knots (approximately 391 mph)
Ceiling: 60,000 feet (18,288 meters)
Range: 10,500nautical miles (19,446 kilometers)
Crew: 4 per ground station (2 pilots and 2 sensor operators)
Sensors: Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver, Electronic Support Measures (ESM) and the following side-looking sensors: Electro-Optical/Infrared(EO/IR) camera, maritime-enabled Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR)

Information from U.S. Naval Air Systems Command

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
Follow @samlagrone

Get USNI News updates delivered to your inbox