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ScanEagle: The sequel

Given the Canadian Army and Navy’s pioneering experience with the Insitu ScanEagle UAV, an interesting item from Euronaval this week: the Boeing subsidiary company has developed the ScanEagle 2.

The next generation of the ScanEagle platform, which Insitu says is built off the lessons learned from more than 800,000 operational hours – many Canadian – offers greater payload power and options, improved navigation, better image quality and a purpose-built propulsion system.

“ScanEagle 2 employs a whole-systems approach to affordability and higher reliability that includes a new propulsion system – the first reciprocating internal combustion propulsion system designed and manufactured specifically for Small-Unmanned-Aircraft-Systems-class vehicles,” according to a news release. “ScanEagle 2 also enables commonality with other unmanned systems thanks to an open-architecture ground control system, as well as a launch-and-recovery system it shares with Integrator, Insitu’s other unmanned platform.”

“ScanEagle 2 will shepherd us into the next two decades as we focus on reliability and affordability and enter the civil/commercial market,” said Insitu president Ryan Hartman. And as ScanEagle has always done, ScanEagle 2 will provide the capability our warfighters have come to expect from Insitu – yet more affordable and more capable.”

Author: Vanguard Staff

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  1. Storm spotters cost the gonenvmert almost nothing – just an annual or biennial training event that lasts an hour or two where one NWS staff member (or even another spotter) teaches a number of spotters. Spotters are sometimes supplemented by chasers, but the roles of the two should not be confused. Most chasers (I’m a spotter and a chaser, and a former pilot), other than the few scientific teams, are there to enjoy the storms, only reporting if nobody else is around to do it.While UAV’s have a role in storm research, it is highly unlikely that they will be suitable for routine severe thunderstorm observation, for a number of reasons.1) Cost – they are a lot more expensive than a spotter, who is virtually free.2) Communications – how do they communicate back to NWS? Spotters do it for free by ham radio or using their own cell phones. They may transmit video if its available, but if not, they are trained to interpret the storms. The aircraft would have to transmit video. Good luck finding reliable bandwidth for that – especially for free!3) Coverage – it is not unusual for a severe weather event to have dozens of cells that all need to be watched. That’s a lot of expensive aircraft in the air at once.4) Turbulence and strong winds – one reason there are no aircraft around severe thunderstorms is because it isn’t a good place for aircraft to go. The smaller (and slower) the aircraft, the worse its tolerance for the winds found around one of these storms. When you have 80 mph rear flank downdrafts, it’s pretty hard for an aircraft to maintain position, impossible for a small drone!5) Hail – virtually every tornado is accompanied by large hail. Spotters can take shelter at gas stations, car washes, or in their own homes. However, a single hit from a 3″ or greater hail stone would destroy a drone.6) Staff time – trained UAV pilots would be needed for much of the operation of the drones. Meteorologists would be needed to watch the video and make determinations (unless it could be fed to a spotter, but this wouldn’t work as well as having the spotter “on the spot.”).

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