August 8, 2008 The ScanEagle is a low-cost, long-endurance autonomous unmanned aircraft that has been one of the most significant new battlefield technologies to emerge during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, performing more than 100,000 combat hours in both theatres and delivering invaluable intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) on a daily basis. The only trouble is that conventional electro-optical and long-wave infrared cameras are severely limited in fog or rain. Now they’ve managed to miniaturize a short-wave infrared (SWIR) camera to fit inside the diminutive ScanEagle, enabling clear vision in any circumstance.
This latest development is the work of ScanEagle’s creator, Boeing, and technology specialists Goodrich and Insitu and the new toy has been successfully flight-tested already.
The camera, built by Goodrich's Sensors Unlimited unit, enables ScanEagle operators to see objects more clearly in fog, rain or when little or no heat is radiated. During recent tests at the Fort Leonard Wood test range in Missouri, the camera recorded clear, streaming video during daytime, twilight and nighttime operations. The Boeing-led team, which integrated the camera in less than 14 weeks, plans additional flight tests later this year.
The idea for the SWIR camera arose specifically to meet growing maritime ISR needs, but we’re sure the U.S. and Australian forces on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan will greatly appreciate the new capability, as it eliminates opposing forces’ ability to use inclement weather as a shield to movement.