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Posted to Maritime Musings (by on February 4, 2014

UAV designed for maritime reconnaissance

 The ScanEagle is a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed specifically for maritime reconnaissance.  It has a 10 foot wingspan, a length of 4.5 feet, weighs 44 pounds, and a cruising speed of 48 knots.  With a flight endurance of 20 hours, it has an effective range of about 60 miles, limited primarily by its communications capability.  It carries a stabilized electro-optical and/or infrared camera on a lightweight inertial-stabilized turret system.  It becomes airborne from a pneumatic launcher (referred to a SuperWedge).  It is recovered by a Skyhook retrieval system, which consists of rope attached to a 30-to-50 foot pole.  The rope is attached to a shock cord to reduce stress on the airframe imposed by the abrupt stop.  A ScanEagle system, including four UAVs, a control station, a remote video terminal, the SuperWedge, and the Skyhook currently sells for about $3 million, but prices are expected to drop.  It entered into service with the US Navy in 2005 and is now in use by the US Marine Corps, the Australian Army, the Canadian Army, and the Tunisian Army.  In May 2013, the US Coast Guard placed a ScanEagle system on the USCGC Bertholf (WMSL-750).  While the cutter was on patrol in the Pacific Ocean, the ScanEagle was deployed by the Bertholf to provide real-time surveillance and location information of a suspected go-fast drug smuggling vessel.  The vessel was then interdicted and its crew arrested with over 1,000 pounds of cocaine.  Further evaluation of the ScanEagle has since been done onboard the USCGC Stratton.  The Coast Guard is now evaluating UAVs for both land-based and cutter-based missions.  The Coast Guard ScanEagles are equipped with both GPS and an Automatic Identification System (AIS).  


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