Provides Real-Time Imagery for Tactical
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
"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.