Iran this week is showing off its first ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), but they didn’t buy it. And, according to the Pentagon, they didn’t shoot it down either. Although no positive identification has been forthcoming, it’s probable that the aircraft on Iranian TV is one that was lost over the past few months — something that occasionally happens due to a variety of reasons. More details should come out in a few days.
The ScanEagle UAV is a relatively simple and effective small aircraft made by Boeing subsidiary Insitu, of Bingen, Washington. It’s been widely employed since 2004 by the U.S. military and several allies in the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) roles. The UAV can be fitted with a variety of payloads — usually sensors that include electro-optic or infrared imagers, but not weapons — and, weighing between 28 and 44 pounds (depending on the payload), the UAV is easy to lift and carry.
Defense News visited Insitu’s flight test facility in northern Oregon on November 13, where the company checks out all its aircraft. The Boeing-sponsored trip gave reporters an opportunity to see in action the SkyHook that catches the aircraft in mid-flight, snagging the wing tip on a rope hanging from a boom. Insitu engineers insisted the method doesn’t harm the little aircraft, although they admitted they didn’t believe it until they saw the results first-hand!
All photos by Christopher P. Cavas. Thanks to Marcus Weisgerber for splicing together the video!