The Boeing Insitu ScanEagle drone has already proven its worth over the skies of Afghanistan and Iraq with over 10,000 hours of flying time recorded.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
Credit: Image from the United States Department of Defense imagery database.
The ScanEagle is a joint production UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) by The Boeing Company and The Insitu Group. As a whole, the program is based highly on the Insitu SeaScan UAV aircraft but coupled with Boeing's expertise in the field of aircraft systems engineering. The ScanEagle has already posted over 10,000 hours of real-world flight time and has proven itself to be billed as advertised. The ScanEagle is charged with all-weather remote reconnaissance and target tracking with exception loitering capabilities.
The ScanEagle can be fitted with either infrared or electro-optical type cameras. Situations are presented and reported in real time and the system is capable of over 48 hours of flight time. Launching is achieved autonomously from a catapult system. Landing is achieved through a "skyhook" approach - a practice which has the ScanEagle catch a rope mounted to a 50-foot high pole at a designated position.
The Boeing product represents a low-cost solution to a potentially regarding need. The ScanEagle was designed from the outset to be operated from ocean-going ships meaning that the proven catapult and hook retrieval systems are just what the doctor ordered. The diminutive size also lends in allowing the system to be stored away aboard navy ships that already deal with limited spacing. First flight of the ScanEagle occurred in 2002 and the system is still going strong, being fielded with the United States Marine Corps and the United States Navy in support of operations in Iraq.
After capture of several Boeing ScanEagle drones by Iran during the heavy U.S. involvement in neighboring Iraq, ScanEagle systems have been reverse-engineered by the Islamic nation and assembly lines arranged to mass produce the American product illegally for the Iranian Air Force and Navy.
The global operator list for ScanEagle has grown considerably over the years with users going far beyond American shores. This list includes Australia, Canada, Netherlands, Japan, Italy, Poland, Spain, the United Kingdom and others. In an effort to help Gulf ally Yemen deal with internal and external threats, Yemen has been a recipient of the American product as well.
Indonesia and the Philippines have both received two ScanEagle systems under a United States counter-terrorism program. Malaysia has been granted use of the ScanEagle 2 platform detailed elsewhere on this site.
April 2018 - The ScanEagle is in contention to become the standard SUAS system of the United States Coast Guard. It is competing with an offering from Textron. These are set to be carried on National Security Cutter vessels.
June 2018 - The United States Coast Guard has finally received approval to operate ScanEagles from their Cutter vessels in a deal with Insitu worth up to $117 million dollars covering eight years.
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