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Frontiers June 2013 Issue

At a recent industry trade show, Caitlin Lynch, who handles events management for Insitu, heard something that gave her goose bumps—and an enormous feeling of pride. “Two separate men came up to us and told us ScanEagle saved their lives in Afghanistan,” she recalled. “To actually hear that firsthand was amazing.” ScanEagle, currently in service with the U.S. Defense Depart-ment, the Australian Defence Force and numerous other allied foreign militaries, is just one of the unmanned aircraft systems developed by Insitu, a wholly owned subsidiary of Boeing. Since 2004, coalition forces in Iraq and later in Afghanistan have successfully used ScanEagle for countless missions. “ScanEagle is there when you need it,” said Charlie Guthrie, Insitu senior vice president of advanced programs and engineer-ing, and the company’s chief technology officer. “At virtually a moment’s notice, ScanEagle can be launched and get to the area where it’s needed.” That ease-of-use capability is key to the small unmanned aircraft’s success in providing real-time intelligence and reconnaissance, Guthrie pointed out. Weighing less than 40 pounds (18 kilograms) and with a wingspan of only 10 feet (3 meters), ScanEagle is launched with a pneumatic catapult. For recovery, a hook on the end of the aircraft’s wingtip catches a rope hanging from a 50-foot (15-meter) boom. An onboard computer and GPS units mounted on top of the pole guide the aircraft. The unmanned aircraft can fly for more than 20 hours at up to 16,000 feet (500 meters), where it’s still undetectable due to its small size and low noise. Missions can be preprogrammed or controlled in real time from a fully transportable ground station. Imagery from the electro-optical or infrared camera is returned by a downlink. Besides military reconnaissance, ScanEagle can perform Eagle eye 26 BOEING FRONTIERS / JUNE 2013


Frontiers June 2013 Issue
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