The ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), developed by The Boeing Company and
The Insitu Group, successfully demonstrated new maritime capabilities for the
United Kingdom Ministry of Defence (MoD) while supporting "Trial Vigilant Viper"
off the Scotland coast.
The trial's goal was to evaluate how a low-cost intelligence, surveillance and
reconnaissance (ISR) platform can contribute to amphibious operations.
Working with Thales and QinetiQ as part of the Joint UAV Experimentation
Program, ScanEagle during 10 flights completed autonomous launch and recovery
operations from a Type 23 Frigate in rough sea conditions. Missions included
land and sea surveillance, beach reconnaissance, force protection, maritime
interdiction and naval gunfire support.
As part of Trial Vigilant Viper, ScanEagle used its onboard electro-optical and
infrared sensors to identify potential threats as small as jet skis. ScanEagle's
ability to determine a target's position, direction of travel and velocity,
coupled with its broadcast quality imagery, enabled amphibious force commanders
to establish the nature of potential threats.
The UAV's contribution to force protection included transmitting real-time high
resolution video to ship, shore, a Sea King AEW MK7 helicopter and the MoD in
London and Portsmouth, England.
Integration of a UAV into the maritime intelligence, surveillance, target
acquisition and reconnaissance environment was a key goal of the trials. The
trials also helped the MoD investigate the utility of a small UAV supporting
Royal Navy ships conducting gunfire support missions.
ScanEagle observed fall of shot, successfully passing the data to a gunfire
controller for corrections. In the future, it may be possible to control naval
gunfire support with "verification of target" as the only human user input.
The U.S. Navy is currently using ScanEagle to provide critical ISR data in
support of Expeditionary Strike Group missions and oil platform security.
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