Eurosatory 2010: New UAV launcher ready for Afghanistan
Insitu, a subsidiary of Boeing, is ready to ship a newly-developed multiple UAV launcher to coalition forces operating in Afghanistan and Iraq, Unmanned Vehicles has been informed.
Designed to launch Insitu’s fixed-wing ScanEagle UAV as well as the new Integrator – currently in evaluation for the US Navy’s STUAS (Small Tactical Unmanned Air Systems) programme – the Mk 4 catapult launcher will allow higher all-up weights to be launched in the ‘hot and high’ conditions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the company said.
Speaking at the Eurosatory exhibition in Paris on 15 June, an Insitu spokesman told UV that the company had now qualified the launcher and confirmed that it was ‘ready to ship the launcher to an undisclosed customer in Afghanistan’.
Unable to comment on which user would receive the Mk 4 launcher, Insitu said around 35 ScanEagle systems – comprising between five to ten air vehicles each – were operational in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa with Australian, Canadian, Polish and US forces.
It has emerged that Polish forces are the first European nation to operate ScanEagle and Insitu confirmed it was planning ‘ongoing’ demonstrations to the UK’s Ministry of Defence.
The spokesman added that 50% of these tasks were being conducted in Afghanistan, with 40% of operations in Iraq and the remaining 10%. Taskings mainly comprise intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, Insitu said, with around 15,000 flying hours completed each month across the board.
Insitu added that ScanEagle vehicles were operating at altitudes as low as 3,000 ft without being detected by enemy forces while utilising either electro-optical or infrared payloads. The UAVs are also networked to the ROVER (remote operating video enhanced receiver) terminals, as used by joint tactical attack controllers.
Insitu also revealed that it had a ‘services contract’ with Polish armed forces to help operate the ScanEagle in theatre and said the US Naval Special Warfare Command owned their fleet of UAVs outright.
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