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May 10, 2005

Tuna-bot goes to war: ScanEagle UAVs a Success in Iraq

Topics: Middle East News and Perspectives

From searching for schools of tuna to searching for terrorists in Iraq, the ScanEagle is a performer.

ScanEagle is a relatively low-cost robot aircraft at $100,000 a copy - but then, it was originally designed to find tuna schools not terrorists. The U.S. Marine Corps is currently using an upgraded version of the aircraft in Iraq, where its performance in Fallujah and along the Syrian border has drawn interest from other services, including a recent $14.5 million contract from the U.S. Navy.

The ScanEagle is described as a "launch-and-forget" system, guiding itself by GPS to an specific area and loitering in a designated area of interest until it's time to come home. Its upgraded electro-optical or infared cameras have enough definition to identify individuals and show if they are carrying weapons, then provide specific targeting coordinates via the Global Positioning System. The system can also track moving targets, and offers commanders at several different levels real-time video of the area under surveillance. A catapult launches the 40-pound aircraft, which was originally designed by Insitu Group to be launched and recovered by tuna boats; the aircraft operates autonomously, and can stay airborne for 10-15 hours.


(From Winds Of Change) As the next generation of GPS-guided smart weapons comes on line over the next 5 years (Excalibur artillery shell, PGK artillery shell add-on, GPS-guided MLRS rockets, and the Small Diameter Smart Bomb), the combination becomes extremely formidable. It's a good illustration of the fact that when we speak of "military transformation," it's not just a matter of buying major weapons systems but a whole host of interlocking innovations, capabilities, and matching doctrine. Some of which cannot be predicted in advance.

Posted by Hyscience at May 10, 2005 7:51 AM

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