By Roy Mabasa
By 2019, the Philippine government will be having at its disposal unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that can provide surveillance and reconnaissance imagery on land or at sea at lower costs than other surveillance methods for military and agriculture missions.
Under the terms of a contract worth $7.4 million between Boeing Insitu and the United States Naval Air Systems Command, the Washington-based UAV designers will build six ScanEagle unmanned aircraft worth for the Philippine government.
Aside from the UAVs, the Insitu has also been asked by the US Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., to provide support equipment, training, site activation, technical services, and data for the Philippines.
Under the said contract, Insitu, a subsidiary of the Boeing Co., will do the work in Bingen, Washington and Hood River, Oregon and should be finished by July 2019. This order is part of a foreign military sales (FMS) contract.
The ScanEagle UAV is 5.1 feet long with a 5.6-foot wingspan. It weighs as much as 48.5 pounds and can carry a 7.5-pound sensor payload consisting of visible-light camera, medium-wave infrared imager, or both integrated in one turret. The UAV also has an analog digitally encrypted video data link, as well as encrypted or unencrypted command-and-control data link.
The UAV can fly on gasoline or heavy fuels like jet fuel, diesel, or kerosine for more than 24 hours at altitudes as high as 19.500 feet, and at speeds to 80 knots.
It can be launched autonomously and uses a no-nets recovery system that recovers with its wing tip on a rope that hangs from a boom.