The US government is procuring 8 ScanEagle unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in support of the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Insitu Inc. has been awarded
a contract valued at over $47 million. ScanEagle’s
base Insight UAV platform was originally developed by Washington state’s Insitu, Inc. to track dolphins and tuna from fishing boats. Its characteristics make it equally suitable for naval operations and for battlefield surveillance. A partnership with Boeing took ScanEagle to the defense market. The ScanEagle is launched by catapult, and autonomously recovered using a folding “skyhook” and catch-line. These UAVs fill a niche between hand-launched mini-UAVs like Aerovironment’s RQ-11 Raven
and runway-capable tactical UAVs like Textron’s RQ-7 Shadow
. The drone can be modified to speciality variants, from sniper locator, to bio-warfare agent detection. The ScanEagle is currently in service in Canada, Malaysia, Colombia, Iraq, Tunisia, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Singapore. The deal also includes spares, other support equipment, 17 field services representatives plus site surveys and activation teams. The majority of work (95%) will be performed in Afghanistan with the remaining 5% being completed in Bingen, Washington. Work is scheduled for completion in March 2019.
Under current plans, the 8×8 wheeled Stryker armored vehicle will be the future backbone of 8 US Army and 1 National Guard medium armored brigades. The 5th Stryker Brigade from Fort Lewis, WA was the first Stryker unit sent to Afghanistan, deployed in the summer of 2009 as part of a troop level increase. The brigade was equipped with 350 Stryker vehicles. In the first few months of deployment, they lost 21 soldiers, with 40 more wounded, to IED land mines. The losses prompted the Army to examine modifications to their Stryker vehicles, in order to make them more resistant to land mines.
One result is the Stryker hull redesign, creating the v-hulled Stryker DVH. The US Army is now on pace to order 2 brigades worth, as it moves toward the end of Stryker armored vehicle production.