Boeing and The Insitu Group announced on July 7 that the two businesses have signed a new long-term contract that will allow the two companies to collaborate on production of the "ScanEagle" unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
The Bingen-based Insitu Group develops miniature robotic aircraft for commercial and military applications.
The contract, which has the potential to run for up to 10 years, follows a 15-month agreement signed in February 2002 to develop a prototype UAV based on Insitu's "Seascan" miniature robotic aircraft. As part of the initial agreement, Insitu will deliver three prototype vehicles to Boeing in the coming weeks.
"This new agreement enables the Boeing/Insitu team to focus on ScanEagle production, as well as further our research and development efforts," said Al Awani, ScanEagle program manager for Boeing. "We've put a solid framework in place to grow the ScanEagle family and expect to begin building production vehicles in the near future."
Boeing and Insitu see a variety of surveillance and communication roles for ScanEagle in the military, homeland security, and commercial arenas.
"Insitu's focus is rapid prototyping of innovative and economical robotic vehicles," explained Steve Sliwa, president of Insitu, "while Boeing provides large-scale systems expertise, scalability, program management, and reliable servicing options for customers. This makes Insitu an excellent complement to the Boeing Unmanned Systems organization."
Since signing the initial contract last year, three ScanEagle prototypes have completed more than 50 test flights. The UAV completed its first autonomous flight on June 19, 2002.
The four-foot long aircraft is the smallest UAV to carry an inertially stabilized gimbaled video camera -- standard equipment on all ScanEagles. The system allows the UAV to easily track both stationary and moving targets. Depending on customer requirements, ScanEagle is capable of carrying a number of other sensory payloads as well.
ScanEagle takes off from a catapult launcher and flies preprogrammed missions using the Global Positioning System. The patented system will allow it to operate from forward fields, mobile vehicles, or sea vessels.
The ScanEagle family of vehicles will have endurance ranges from 15 to more than 40 hours.