British Explore Maritime UAS From Ships

This is an impression of an unmanned version of the Polish W-4 helicopter.The UK Royal Navy (RN) deployed its first maritime unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) this week, when an Insitu Scan Eagle system was added to RFA Cardigan Bay, which is supporting the EU anti-piracy patrols off Somalia. The service is also planning a rotary-wing UAS trial on a ship later this year, having contracted with AgustaWestland for a concept capability demonstration (CCD).

Boeing’s Insitu subsidiary is providing two Scan Eagle systems equipped with EO/IRvideo sensors to the Royal Navy under a contractor-owned, contractor-operated contract signed last June, and lasting through March 2015. The Navy is providing the tasking and sortie generation, said Cdr. Bow Wheaton, the maritime aviation capability officer at RN headquarters. He told AIN during a media briefing that the Scan Eagle would be launched and recovered on the ship’s helicopter platform. The Navy hopes to exploit the endurance of the UAV to extend the ship’s surveillance coverage, he added. Insitu will provide 600 hours of flight per month under the contract. The second system will be deployed on HMS Somerset, a frigate.

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