Warplanes: June 6, 2004


A new, lightweight UAV, equipped with high resolution day and night video cameras, is being used by U.S. Marines to patrol roads in Iraq, looking for roadside bombs. The new ScanEagle UAV weighs 40 pounds, has a ten foot wingspan and uses a new video technology (PixonVision), that provides twice the resolution of current video cameras. This makes it easier for the UAV, flying along roads frequently used by American troops, to spot possible bombs (which can then be more closely checked out by engineer teams stationed along these roads for that purpose.) The ScanEagle can stay in the air for up to 15 hours per flight, and fly as high as 16,000 feet. But for the road patrol work, it will fly much lower. The aircraft carries an optical system that is inertially stabilized to keep the cameras focused on an object while the UAV moves. The ScanEagle is launched from a catapult and landed via a wing hook that catches a rope hanging from a fifty foot pole. In effect, the marines are giving the ScanEagle a field test. If the system works, more will be bought.


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