Boeing Insitu ScanEagle

The Scan Eagle is an unmanned aircraft of the U.S. manufacturer Boeing and Insitu, which belongs to Boeing since 2008. Main tasks of the ScanEagle are reconnaissance, surveillance and obtaining intelligence information.


The Scan Eagle was originally developed in 2001 under the name SeaScan for the fishing industry to search from the air and track schools of tuna can. For this purpose, an aircraft was needed that could take off and land from normal ships. For cost reasons, and to the disadvantages of a helicopter to escape, the developers chose instead a fixed wing aircraft with special takeoff and landing procedures. The need for the U.S. military to be able to watch local areas for a long time from the air, finally in 2002 led to an adaptation of the ScanEagle related to military matters.


The Scan Eagle is designed as a tailless aircraft with winglets as a rudder and 23.2 ° wing sweep. Wing and fuselage are made entirely of fiber composites. To ensure ease of transport in case of damage just to be able to replace individual parts, the aircraft is modular. The Seaeagle is powered by a two-stroke engine with a pusher propeller. For this purpose, the original gasoline engine designed for the operation was converted to kerosene. For the control of the aircraft, a flight control system from Athena Technologies, and numerous sensors are integrated. In addition to a GPS receiver and an INS platform, a magnetometer and air data sensors are available. The control and telemetry via a UHF data link, while the payload data in the S-band are transmitted at frequencies around 2.4 GHz. Here, the data transmission is secured by the use of frequency hopping spread spectrum.

As payload carries the ScanEagle one of several SAR ( ImSAR ), thermal imaging ( DRS E6000 ) or photodetectors.

For the sea-based application launch and recovery methods have been developed for the SeaScan or ScanEagle adjusted. The launch takes place by means of a pneumatic catapult, which accelerates the aircraft to about 90 km / hr. The landing can be made either by conventional (only land) or by means of the patented SkyHook system. While the aircraft flies toward a vertically stretched 15 m long line, which slides due to the wing sweep at the outer ends of the wing and engages there in a hook system.

To keep costs low, was used in the construction of the SeaScan, especially at the beginning wherever it was possible to resort to usual standard components ( COTS components). Thus, the two-stroke engine for the drive from a model airplane engine was derived, installed a commercial video camera ( Sony 1000), and modifies a normal working platform for the landing system. Only in the course of military refitting additional sensors were added.


The following states operate the Scan Eagle:

  • United States United States (U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps )
  • Canada Canada
  • Australia (Australian Army)
  • Poland Poland
  • Colombia Colombia
  • Singapore Singapore
  • Iran Iran (allegedly since the end of 2012 the production of a ScanEagle copy )


The ScanEagle was until now mainly used in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. There, it is used by Australian, American and Canadian armed forces. But even in the fight against pirates came already in use. Thus, the Maersk Alabama was monitored during the occupation by pirates Scan Eagles. Colombia uses the Scan Eagle in the fight against terrorists and drug smugglers.

Of 4 December 2012 reported the Iranian armed forces have intercepted a drone type ScanEagle. However, this was denied shortly after by the U.S. military. A name unknown employee of the Department of Defense of the United States said: "Whatever the Iranians claim to possess, it is not actively operating drone of the U.S. Navy. "