Kenya recently bought an American ScanEagle UAV system for $10 million. Each system includes one ground controller and four ScanEagle UAVs. The Kenyan deal includes training, spare parts and tech support. The Kenyan ScanEagles are to be in service by the end of 2016. Kenya needs ScanEagle for dealing with al Shabaab Islamic terrorists operating along the Somali border. Kenya has several thousand troops in southern Somalia serving as peacekeepers and want to use the UAVs to prevent ambushes and surprise attacks. Because of the Internet many Kenyan officers and troops know of the success other armies have had with small UAVs.
The original ScanEagle weighed 19 kg (40 pounds), had a 3.2 meter (ten foot) wingspan, and used day and night video cameras. On ships it uses a catapult for launch and is landed via a wing hook that catches a rope hanging from a 16 meter (fifty foot) pole. On land, where Kenya will use it, ScanEagle can land on any flat, solid surface.
The ScanEagle can stay in the air for up to 24 hours per flight and fly as high as 6,100 meters (19,500 feet). ScanEagles’ cruising speed is 110 kilometers an hour and can operate at least a hundred kilometers from the ground controller. Scan Eagle carries an optical system that is stabilized to keep the cameras focused on an object while the UAV moves. ScanEagle has been in military service since 2005 and was used by civilian operators for several years before that. There are now over ten nations using ScanEagle plus many more commercial users.
In 2015 the ScanEagle 2 was introduced. This version has a more powerful and reliable engine. That meant more power was available for sensors; from the current 60 watts to as much as 100 or (depending on what other equipment is operating) 150 watts. There is also a more user-friendly ground control system and a better onboard navigation system. Aside from a slightly longer fuselage, ScanEagle 2 is the same size as the original. The only operational difference is that the 2 version can only do 16 hours per sortie versus 24 for the original. This is OK with nearly all users, who rarely do 24 hour missions. Existing ScanEagles can be upgraded to the 2 standard by adding or replacing a few components. Kenya appears to be getting ScanEagle 2.