By Shane McGinley
ScanEagle unmanned aircraft is involved in surveillance and reconnaissance
Middle Eastern countries are in talks with a unit of the Boeing Company to buy up to 150 drones, a senior executive has revealed.
Institu, a subsidiary of the US planemaker, currently has “between 12 and 15 active pursuits right now in the region,” Mark Russell, the company’s business development manager told reporters.
Each potential sale consists of six Institu ScanEagle surveillance drones and four Institu Interceptor drones.
While Russell declined to name which countries are currently in talks, it is believed that the ScanEagle drones are already in use in Yemen, Iraq and Tunisia. The majority of sales are carried out through the US government’s Foreign Military Sales programme.
Classed as a long-endurance, autonomous unmanned aircraft system, the ScanEagle provides persistent daytime and nighttime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance for civilian and defense operations. It can operate for up to 24 hours at heights of up to 5,950 metres.
It was originally developed for fishermen to track tuna but was first used in combat during the Battle of Fallujah in Afghanistan in 2004 and was infamously used to help rescue Captain Richard Phillips when he was captured by Somali pirates in 2009.
The company was set up in 1994 and was bought by Boeing in 2008.
Insitu will display the ScanEagle at the Unmanned Systems Exhibition and Conference (UMEX) in Abu Dhabi in March 2016, having been invited to exhibit at the event by HH Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Russell said.