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Tue, May 31, 2005

Boeing ScanEagle UAV Surpasses 3000 Combat Flight Hours in Iraq

Provides Real-Time Imagery for Tactical Commanders  

ScanEagle, a long-endurance fully autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), has surpassed 3,000 combat flight hours during operations in Iraq in just ten months.

The low-cost UAV has proven to be one of the military's most effective tools for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the war on terrorism. Since being deployed by the First Marine Expeditionary Force in August 2004, ScanEagle has accumulated flight hours at an increasingly high rate due to the need for its unmatched capabilities.

"The Marines depend on ScanEagle daily to provide critical real-time imagery tactical commanders can use to develop a clearer picture of the battlefield," said Peggy Holly, Boeing ScanEagle program manager. "Reaching 3,000 combat flight hours in such a short time is a testament to ScanEagle's operational value."

ScanEagle, which is four feet long with a 10-foot wingspan, carries either an electro-optical or an infrared camera. Both are inertially stabilized. The gimbaled camera allows the operator to easily track both stationary and moving targets. In Iraq that has included enemy combatants, vehicles, roads, buildings and other hot spots. Capable of flying above 16,000 feet, the UAV normally provides persistent low-altitude reconnaissance.

For a vehicle of its size, ScanEagle's endurance/payload combination is unmatched. The ScanEagle "A-15" -- the current model -- can remain on station for more than 15 hours. It also has demonstrated the ability to operate in a harsh weather environments, including high winds and heavy rains, conditions that can keep other UAVs on the ground.

Due to its unique launch and recovery systems, ScanEagle takeoffs and landings are unaffected by terrain and other conditions such as crosswinds. It is launched autonomously via a pneumatic wedge catapult launcher and flies pre-programmed or operator-initiated missions. A "Skyhook" system is used for retrieval, with the UAV catching a rope hanging from a 50-foot high pole. The patented system makes ScanEagle runway independent with a small footprint for launch and recovery operations.

Boeing received a contract from the U.S. Marine Corps in July 2004 to provide two ScanEagle "mobile deployment units". In April 2005, the U.S. Navy signed a $14.5 million contract with Boeing to provide ISR coverage during Naval Expeditionary Strike Group missions and security for oil platforms in the Persian Gulf.

Phantom Works, the advanced research and development unit for Boeing, is assisting in the development of ScanEagle. Through its Integrated Defense Advanced Systems group, it provides leading edge systems and technology solutions to Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, one the world's largest space and defense businesses.

FMI: www.boeing.com

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