The Boeing Insitu ScanEagle is a small, low-cost, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) built by Insitu, a subsidiary of Boeing. The ScanEagle was designed by Insitu based on the Insitu SeaScan, a commercial UAV that helped fishermen look for fish. The ScanEagle continues to be upgraded with improved technology and reliability.
Design and Development
ScanEagle is a descendant of another Insitu UAV, SeaScan, which was conceived of as a remote sensor for collecting weather data as well as helping commercial fishermen locate and track schools of tuna. ScanEagle emerged as the result of a strategic alliance between Boeing and Insitu. The resulting technology has been successful as a portable Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) for autonomous surveillance in the battlefield, and has been deployed since August 2004 in the Iraq War.
ScanEagle carries a stabilized electro-optical and/or infrared camera on a lightweight inertial stabilized turret system integrated with communications range over 62 miles (100 km), and flight endurance of 20+ hours. ScanEagle has a 10.2-foot (3.1 m) wingspan a length of 4.5 feet (1.4 m) and a mass of 44 pounds (20 kg) and can operate up to 80 knots (92 mph; 150 km/h), with an average cruising speed of 48 knots (55 mph; 89 km/h). Block D aircraft featured a higher-resolution camera, a custom-designed Mode C transponder and a new video system. A Block D aircraft, flying at Boeing’s test range in Boardman, Oregon set a type endurance record of 22 hours, 8 minutes.
ScanEagle needs no airfield for deployment. Instead, it is launched using a pneumatic launcher, patented by Insitu, known as the “SuperWedge” launcher. It is recovered using the “Skyhook” retrieval system, which uses a hook on the end of the wingtip to catch a rope hanging from a 30-to-50-foot (9.1 to 15 m) pole. This is made possible by high-quality differential GPS units mounted on the top of the pole and UAV. The rope is attached to a shock cord to reduce stress on the airframe imposed by the abrupt stop.
Each ScanEagle system costs US$3.2 million (2006). A complete system comprises four air vehicles or AVs, a ground control station, remote video terminal, and the Skyhook launch and recovery system.
On 18 March 2008, Boeing, with ImSAR and Insitu successfully flight-tested a ScanEagle with ImSAR’s NanoSAR A radar mounted aboard. The ImSAR NanoSAR is the world’s smallest Synthetic Aperture Radar, weighs 3.5 lb (1,590 g) and is 100 cubic inches (1.6 litres) in volume. It is designed to provide high quality real-time ground imaging through adverse weather conditions or other battlefield obscurants.
In 2009, Boeing and Insitu announced the NightEagle, a modified ScanEagle Block E with an infrared camera for night operations.
In August 2010, Boeing announced plans to control ScanEagles from control stations on E-3A AWACS aircraft and on the V-22. In July 2011, a team of two ScanEagles and another UAV cooperated to search and navigate a mountain area autonomously.
The ScanEagle entered service with the U.S. Navy in 2005. In addition to the United States military, the Australian Army also operates the ScanEagle UAV. As well the Canadian Government announced in August 2008 that they would lease the ScanEagle for use of their military operations in Afghanistan.
In April 2009, a ScanEagle launched by the U.S. Navy was used during the stand-off between the U.S. Navy and a lifeboat controlled by pirates holding Capt. Richard Phillips of the MV Maersk Alabama in the Indian Ocean after a failed hijack attempt. Insitu announced that the ScanEagle had totaled 500,000 combat flight hours and over 56,000 sorties by July 2011.
On 4 December 2012, it was reported that Iran stated it had captured an American ScanEagle that allegedly violated its air space over the Persian Gulf. The U.S. Navy stated that none of its ScanEagles were missing. Photo evidence released of the alleged ScanEagle by Iran showed no U.S. military markings. It was reported in February 2013 that Iran is producing a copied version of the ScanEagle and put the UAV into military service.
Australian Defence Force
Royal Netherlands Army Royal Netherlands Navy
Republic of Singapore Navy
United States Airforce
United States Marine Corps
United States Navy
Powerplant: 1 × 3W 2-stroke piston engine, 1.5 hp
Avionics :High resolution, day/night camera and thermal imager
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