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Flying high: Boeing's ScanEagle Compressed Carriage conducts test flight

Boeing's ScanEagle Compressed Carriage unmanned airborne system

Rich Rau/Boeing

Boeing's ScanEagle Compressed Carriage unmanned airborne system gives warfighters more options when choosing an operating platform - from the air, ground or underwater.

On a sunny morning in eastern Oregon, Boeing’s ScanEagle Compressed Carriage (SECC) unmanned airborne system (UAS) was strapped and secured to its moving launch platform – a specially rigged pickup truck – as a team of Boeing engineers prepared the aircraft for a simulated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) mission on May 12.

When the truck reached 65 miles per hour, the SECC began its 75-minute maiden flight, where the aircraft’s six-horsepower, heavy-fuel engine, coupled with the light winds and ideal conditions at the test facility, lifted the UAS to various altitudes reaching more than 3,500 feet.

Flying autonomously using GPS navigation, the aircraft’s airworthiness and flight characteristics were evaluated during this test flight. The SECC was also equipped with an electro-optical/infrared sensor package that provided streaming video to the ground station at the testing facility. When the time came to recover the aircraft, the team used the same runway-independent SkyHook recovery system used by the ScanEagle and Integrator unmanned airborne systems.

The Compressed Carriage aircraft stands apart from other unmanned systems of similar size with its capability for users to fold its wings – which make up an 11-foot wingspan – vertical tail and canards and carry the vehicle in a launch container.

"This is a big step toward adding another aircraft with additional capabilities to Boeing's UAS stable," said Ron Perkins, director of Boeing Phantom Works' Advanced Unmanned Airborne Systems. "The vehicle's 132-inch wingspan and folding aero surfaces allow it to be carried on an aircraft pylon or in a container, giving the warfighter the choice of operating it from air, underwater, ground or surface platforms."

The SECC long-endurance, autonomous UAS is designed to provide ISR, targeting, and battle-management assessment, and it will complete additional testing in the coming months.