ScanEagle used in Libya operations


Insitu’s ScanEagle Unmanned Aerial Vehicle has been deployed by the United States Navy in support of operations against Libya, flying 1 154 flight hours during 167 sorties.

The ScanEagle was flown from the USS Mahan (DDG 72), an Arleigh Burke class destroyer with the US Navy. On Tuesday Insitu, a subsidiary of Boeing, said that the ScanEagle was used during a 72 hour counter-terrorism mission in support of Operation Unified Protector to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
“What happened over that period of time, no one expected,” said ScanEagle Detachment Officer in Charge Lieutenant Nick Townsend. “ScanEagle was locating contacts of interest that no one else could find. After the dust settled, ScanEagle was credited with locating a host of contacts of interest due to its ability to capture superior image quality and to operate covertly at relatively low altitudes.”

During the three-day tasking aboard the USS Mahan, the ScanEagle achieved a 99% mission readiness rate and was able to respond to unplanned tasks within half an hour’s notification, Insitu said. It also coordinated with an E-3 AWACS team controlling Libyan airspace.

Imagery was delivered by secure networked channels from the ship to the NATO/US task force through the Secure Video Injection system provided by Boeing.

ScanEagle is a small, lightweight long-endurance UAV in service with the United States, Australia and Canada, amongst others. The aircraft carries a stabilised electro-optical/infrared camera and has an endurance of more than 20 hours – the longest flight has been 22 hours. It has a three metre wingspan and cruises at 110 km/h.

ScanEagle can be operated from ships and other platforms as it is launched from a pneumatic launcher and recovered by catching a hook (mounted on the end of the wingtip) onto a rope hanging on a pole. A GPS mounted on the pole guides the ScanEagle onto the rope.

ScanEagle has been used in combat since 2004 when it was deployed to Iraq, and in April 2009 a ScanEagle launched by the US Navy was used during the stand-off between the US Navy and a lifeboat controlled by pirates holding Captain Richard Phillips of the MV Maersk Alabama in the Indian Ocean after a failed hijack attempt.

In July, Insitu announced that the ScanEagle had flown 500,000 combat flight hours and over 56,000 sorties.

ScanEagle of one of many UAVs operating in Libya. Last week the Italian Air Force carried out its first Predator B flights while the United States flies a number of UAVs in support of Unified Protector.

Yesterday a US official told Reuters that the US has deployed two more Predators for surveillance operations over Libya. The aircraft arrived earlier this week, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. It was not clear how many US UAVs are currently deployed on the NATO mission. The US has been conducting strikes using Predators since the beginning of the conflict.