This is interesting, L3 have resurrected the ‘tethered autogyro’ concept to provide small craft with what is essentially, a camera on a very long stick, or virtual mast.
In WWII the submarine force faced a similar need as a result of them being low to water. They came up with the Focke Achgelis Fa 330, a collapsible manned autogyro.
At an altitude of about 120m the pilot could see about 40km or 22nm
L3 have taken this concept and given it a modern makeover, the Valkyrie
Making use of carbon composites and lightweight alloys it swaps a pilot for an electro-optical sensor turret with the images being relayed by a fibre optic cable that is integral to the tether.
It has been tested on a number of small craft and proven to be easy to operate and flexible, providing the crew with excellent situational awareness for zero fuel cost and a very low capital cost.
For merchant vessels, this looks ideal and for other naval vessels, a useful addition to any other embarked helicopter of unmanned systems. Obviously it is limited by the fact that the centre of its view will always be the host vessel but one could easily see these being used.