Every great platform in aviation history shares a few characteristics: They are all adaptable and extendable, and evolve easily as technology and missions begin to change. When the sketches went up on the board for ScanEagle, this was clearly apparent in the early concept development. Since our first successful flight tests and through our more than half-million combat flight hours, we have been improving and extending the power of ScanEagle unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The following is a list of our current options for the platform — all tested and fielded right now for various Insitu customers. Expect this list to grow as our engineers, partners and payload directorate team continue to concept, design, test and deploy new options.
The Automatic Identification System (AIS) data relay option for Insitu’s UAS effectively extends the eyes of a ship beyond the horizon. AIS allows maritime authorities to track and monitor vessel movements. The International Maritime Organization requires AIS to be fitted aboard international voyaging ships with gross weight of 300 tons or more and all passenger ships. Relaying AIS data via an aerial asset effectively extends the eyes of the ship beyond the horizon. Flying since 2008, ScanEagle’s AIS payload enables receipt of AIS data. ScanEagle relays that data back to the controlling vessel, or to other networked assets.
Insitu aircraft equipped with the AIS data relay option can receive and transmit the following data:
Once an aircraft initiates an AIS data stream, that data is automatically sent to shipboard systems.
The AES-compliant, frequency agile Bandit Digital Data Link (Bandit DDL) system from L-3 Communication Systems-West encrypts data, so intelligence remains secure. A breakthrough in encryption technology, Bandit DDL is the first-in-class digital transmission solution to meet encryption requirements mandated by the Office of the Secretary of Defense for sensitive but unclassified information. Bandit DDL feeds encrypted data in near-real time from the aircraft to remote viewing terminals including ROVER, OSRVT, Video Scout and Insitu ground control stations.
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The ultra-light Mode C Transponder helps with aircraft deconfliction during military missions and also enables easier integration of the system into applications within the National Airspace. The mode C Transponder is standard issue on all Insitu unmanned aircraft systems. The component is programmable during flight and, as such, allows the vehicle to become as covert as necessary with the flip of a switch — even at low altitudes. If you are flying in congested airspace, you can turn on your transponder to add another degree of safety, and when you are flying out on a mission, away from air traffic and friendly skies, you can turn off the transponder to remain undetectable.
The transponder is capable of modes 3/A (four-digit identification code) and 3/C (code plus encoded altitude) and is compliant with RTCA DO-144 specifications and TSO C74c standards.
When ScanEagle first deployed with the U.S. Navy in July 2005 aboard amphibious transport dock USS Cleveland (LPD-7), Insitu committed itself to resolving a shipboard logistics hurdle — fuel. No one had figured out how to make a lightweight yet powerful heavy fuel engine (HFE). Since naval vessels typically carry only this less-flammable diesel-type fuel, maintaining operations for a small gas-fueled aircraft like ScanEagle could be a challenge. So while Insitu engineers were busy refining ScanEagle’s fielded, gas-fueled engine, Insitu worked with partner Sonex Research Inc. to keep efforts focused on the heavy-fuel solution. In 2006, Insitu and Sonex brought new technology to the market with the introduction of the HFE-configured ScanEagle. The small-footprint, expeditionary system was evolving, and in 2007, it became the first UAS to operate aboard a destroyer-class vessel, USS Oscar Austin (DDG-79).
The heavy fuel engine had an additional benefit: When ScanEagle is configured with the heavy fuel engine, endurance increases.
Insitu’s hush engine was developed in partnership with Northwest UAV Propulsion Systems. The hush kit allows the low-altitude ScanEagle unmanned aircraft to fly even lower without being heard. Lessons learned from flight in combat since 2009, under the acoustic challenges of mountainous and maritime environments, led to improvements that further reduce the system’s acoustic signature in Insitu’s second-generation hush engine.
ScanEagle serial number 08-513 was Insitu’s 513th production aircraft, but Insitu aircraft are modular, and they are reconfigured in the field to suit the mission, so even early models like ScanEagle 08-513 can be updated for flight with today’s capability. In 2009, when the ScanEagle system had just logged 150,000 service hours in Iraq and Afghanistan, ScanEagle 08-513 was being reconfigured with Insitu’s latest hush technology and mid-wave infrared imager. The new engine let the aircraft fly undetected at lower altitude and produced the best video possible. Insitu’s experience and reliability, evidenced in ScanEagle 08-513, reduce exposure to risk and stretch initial investment.
Anti-collision strobe lights are one of the many ways that Insitu shows we are dedicated to responding to our customers’ needs and providing the safest, most reliable UAS. Anti-collision strobe lights fielded in late 2011 provide greater visibility to ground personnel and other aircraft in the area of operations. The strobes can be seen for at least three miles from any angle, and operators can activate or de-activate the lights as the mission requires.
Insitu engineers worked hard to pack the power and safety requirements of the strobes into a miniature package that maintained the endurance in excess of 24 hours that our customers had come to expect. To provide the desired safety requirements without compromising capability, our engineers worked to minimize weight and power draw.
Since we first entered theater with the U.S. Marine Corps in 2004, we have listened to the requirements of the warfighter. Simultaneously, we have listened to requirements of civil aviation associations such as the United States Federal Aviation Administration and the European Union Jarus to ensure Insitu systems meet the requirements of the industry and the concerns of the public. If you are flying in congested airspace, you can turn on your strobe lights to add another degree of safety, and when you are flying out on a mission, away from air traffic and friendly skies, you can turn the strobes off to remain undetectable.
BINGEN, Wash., May 22, 2013 - Insitu announced today that RQ-21A reached Milestone C under the Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (STUAS) contract with Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). The achievement will enable the program to transition from the Engineering, Manufacturing and Development (EMD) phase to a Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) phase and enter initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E).more
BRISBANE, Australia, May 14, 2013 - Insitu Pacific, the Australia-based subsidiary of Insitu Inc., announced today that it has delivered a ScanEagle Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) to its partner Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) of Japan. This delivery means that the ScanEagle UAS is now ready for operational use by the Japanese Ground Self Defence Forces (JGSDF).
BINGEN, Wash., April 9, 2013 - Insitu Inc. announced today the successful first maritime flight of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (STUAS) RQ-21A. The nearly two-hour flight launched from the USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) after three months of land-based development testing and operational assessment.more
BINGEN, Wash., April 9, 2013 - Insitu announced today the launch of its partnership with Santos Lab, a leading/innovative developer and manufacturer of hand launched unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The alliance further demonstrates Insitu's commitment to meeting the diversified needs of the Brazilian Armed Forces by forming strategic, long-term relationships with proven Brazilian companies.more
BINGEN, Wash., Feb. 22, 2012-Insitu Inc. announced today that the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has awarded the company a Mid-Endurance Unmanned Aircraft Systems (MEUAS) Intelligence Gathering, Target Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Services contract for 26 months through Feb. 28, 2015.more
BINGEN, Wash., Feb. 19, 2013-Insitu announced today the successful first flight of Integrator unmanned aircraft system (UAS) Block 2, the latest technology release of the system.
The nearly two-hour flight occurred at the company's flight test range in eastern Oregon and was conducted using Insitu's Common Open-mission Management Command and Control (ICOMC2) ground control station. ICOMC2 enables flight of multiple heterogeneous UAS and enables U.S. and NATO member nations to jointly support military operations through a STANAG 4586 compliant system. The flight completed with the current Mark 4 Launcher and SkyHook recovery systems that supports expeditionary missions and rapid troop movement.
BINGEN, Wash., Feb 14, 2013-Insitu will showcase its combat-proven tactical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) products, services and capabilities at the 2013 International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) Feb. 17-21 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center in Abu Dhabi, UAE.more
BRISBANE, Australia, Oct. 30, 2012 - Insitu Pacific, the Australia-based subsidiary of Insitu Inc., announced today that it has successfully completed integration between its ScanEagle Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) and the McQ iScout Unattended Ground Sensor (UGS) and OmniWatch technologies.more
BINGEN, Wash., Oct. 23, 2012- Insitu Inc., announced today that it has signed a long-term licensing agreement with Sentient, located in Melbourne, Australia, to integrate Kestrel land and maritime automated detection software systems into Insitu's Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).more
BINGEN, Wash., Oct. 19, 2012- Insitu Inc., today announced that it donated a ScanEagle unmanned aircraft, which participated in a widely publicized rescue mission in April 2009, to The Museum of Flight in Seattle. The aircraft will be displayed for several weeks in the Museum lobby then withdrawn to be prepared for permanent exhibit in the museum's Great Gallery in 2013.more