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Boeing’s ScanEagle long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) last week relayed real-time data and video to an underway ship serving as the command and control platform during the Navy’s Giant Shadow experiment.
“”We’re pleased that ScanEagle successfully performed its key mission as part of this unique exercise,”” said Charlie Guthrie, Boeing Unmanned Systems director of rapid prototyping and advanced concepts. “”This further adds to our confidence that we’re able to provide potential customers, such as the Navy, with an autonomous, low-cost, long-endurance UAV that will meet their needs.””
Boeing partnered with Insitu last year to develop ScanEagle based on Insitu’s Seascan, a commercial ship-based UAV surveillance. ScanEagle made its first autonomous flight in June at Boeing’s test facility in Oregon.
One ScanEagle flew more than 20 hours in five flights, a company spokesman told Defense Daily yesterday. The company had provided three UAVs to the experiment for redundancy, but all flights went well and only one vehicle was required, he added.
Insitu will formally deliver the three UAVs to Boeing in the next few months, the spokesman said. The vehicles are more representative of early production models than previous aluminum and fiberglass prototypes, now constructed of lighter-weight carbon fiber composites and with improved transmission and reception capabilities, he added.
Also, the UAV used had an internally stabilized, gimballed camera system, weighing about one and one half pounds in the vehicle’s nose, the spokesman said.
Currently, ScanEagle uses a two-stroke engine capable of giving the vehicle 15 hours of endurance and a range of about 1,500 miles. The company is preparing to install a new four-stroke engine in future iterations of the UAV, which will give it an endurance of 60 hours and a range of about 5,000 miles, he said.
It is also considering heavy gas engines, which would pose less of a shipboard fuel storage problem than highly volatile gasoline.
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