Boeing Insitu ScanEagle — hostage rescue tool
Boeing’s subsidiary Insitu first produced the ScanEagle for civilian scientific and regulatory work but the U.S. Navy quickly adapted the drone for its work. Importantly, for the U.S. Navy as well as civilian researchers, ScanEagles have no runway requirement for operations since they are launched into the air on a catapult and recovered by flying into a shock cord capture system. The ScanEagle can fly for nearly a full day with its 1.5 hp (1.1kW) gasoline fueled two-stroke engine but it is the synergy of the design which is remarkable. ScanEagle is a set of eyes (visual and infra-red) that can loiter over an area for a very long time (termed as persistent surveillance) while unseen and unheard due to its small size 10.2 foot (3.1m) wingspan and low noise levels. It was a dutiful ScanEagle which assissted Navy SeALs to rescue the Maersk Alabama hostage from the ship’s lifeboat in April 2009 by constantly eyeing the vessel.
Boeing Insitu ScanEagle in the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum (serendipitous that a ScanEagle is on exhibit in the same room as the Maersk Alabama lifeboat which was the subject of the April 2009 hostage rescue by U.S. Navy SeALs, though there is no sign stating this). Note the hook on each wingtip used for “landings” a horizontally arranged shock cord is “caught” after the wing has been flown into it. — photo by Joseph May
ScanEagle image of the Maersk Alabama lifeboat during the April 2009 hostage situation — U.S. Navy photo
Boeing Insitu ScanEagle in the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum, note its slim and trim nature which makes it hard to spot in the sky — photo by Joseph May
Detail of the ScanEagle’s imaging electronics, the small black cylinder pointing downwards is an electro-optic point-of-view (POV) video camera — photo by Joseph May
ScanEagles are powered by a small two-stroke gasoline fueled engine — photo by Joseph May
The in-line inlet and exhaust of the ScanEagle’s engine (image taken with high ISO camera) — photo by Joseph May
Winglets with rudders in the design-speak of the ScanEagles advanced efficiency, also note the external actuators on the split ailerons — photo by Joseph May
The ScanEagle in this photo is on exhibit in the National Navy UDT–SEAL Museum, of which many posts have been published — use the search window 😉
This Insitu fact sheet as well as this Insitu fact sheet and this Boeing fact sheet are also quite helpful.