The ScanEagle UAV has 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
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.
"This program marks a major endorsement of ScanEagle's ISR
capabilities, which have the potential to enhance future amphibious
operations," said Steve Krause, Boeing Advanced Systems Business
Development lead. "Equally significant is the fact that ScanEagle
conducted the first autonomous take off and recovery from a UK
warship, the Type 23 Frigate HMS Sutherland."
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
The U.S. Navy is currently using ScanEagle to provide critical
ISR data in support of Expeditionary Strike Group missions and oil
The Insitu Group, located in Bingen, Wash., develops unmanned
aerial systems for commercial and military applications. Insitu,
which introduced the first unmanned aerial vehicle to cross the
Atlantic Ocean, also developed the Fugro GeoRanger and worked with
Boeing to develop ScanEagle.