Scan Eagle & Integrator – May be Made in India

The offer of drones from Insitu Pacific, Australia, is expected to dramatical­ly change the surveillan­ce capabiliti­es of the Indian maritime security agencies and forces deployed on borders to prevent terrorist infiltrati­on

- [ By Ranjit Kumar ]

If negotiatio­ns with Indian defence and armed forces officials proceed well, India could soon be producing the most advanced Integrator and ScanEagle drones. The Indian Navy and the Indian Army want to deploy these surveillan­ce drones for keeping a close watch from the sky on any surreptiti­ous movements not only in the coastal areas but also on the high seas and land border areas. These unmanned aerial systems (UAS) can very effectivel­y watch and locate the launch pads of the terror groups, who are ready for infiltrati­on into India, specifical­ly in Jammu and Kashmir ( J&K).

Designed, developed and produced by Insitu Pacific, the Australia-based fully-owned subsidiary of the Boeing Company, it has offered these highly advanced and most effective maritime and overland surveillan­ce systems to the Indian armed forces, which will greatly boost the capabiliti­es of Indian security agencies to keep a close watch on the Pakistani terrorist infiltrati­on from across the line of control and the internatio­nal border in J&K. The company describes the ScanEagle as agile, virtually undetectab­le, and on station until the job is done. According to a company official, the hardworkin­g ScanEagle delivers persistent imagery on land or at sea at a fraction of cost of other surveillan­ce methods. These drones can keep continuous surveillan­ce day and night. The Integrator­s

are the latest unmanned aerial systems with the ability to carry out longer missions with larger payloads. The Integrator has an empty structure weight of 36+ kg with a maximum payload of 18 kg and a maximum take-off weight of 61.2 kg including the fuel. This UAS is powered by reciprocat­ing piston engine developing eight horsepower and runs on heavy fuel or auto gas. The vehicle is designed for a maximum speed of 90 knots with a service ceiling of 20,000 feet. Though after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard have deployed many systems like automatic identifica­tion systems (AIS) in the over 7,000-km-long coastline, the two category of drones on offer from Insitu Pacific is expected to dramatical­ly change the surveillan­ce capabiliti­es of the Indian maritime security agencies and forces deployed on borders to prevent terrorist infiltrati­ons.

During a visit to the Insitu facility in Brisbane, a senior official of the company Brad Jeismann revealed that the company is engaged in serious discussion with Indian private sector companies to set up production facilities in India for supply of not only to the Indian armed forces but also for exports. According to Jeismann: “Any acquisitio­n of unmanned aerial systems would consider the overall architectu­re of the system and not just the platform. We have had a number of discussion­s with a number of Indian companies on what could be possible to support our Make and Buy India strategy. It has been really enlighteni­ng to go ahead and conduct these discussion­s. We have been quite positive that we can produce some elements in the country.”

The ScanEagle has been under production since early last decade and in use with the US and Australian maritime agencies since the middle of last decade. The ScanEagle was deployed with US Maritime command in 2004 and a year later US Navy acquired these UAS. In 2006 the Australian Navy deployed the ScanEagle. The US Air Force also acquired these UAS in 2008. Insitu has been constantly engaged in enhancing its surveillan­ce capabiliti­es and it has now evolved into a most effective aerial tool to keep a track on the intruding vessels from the sea. The ScanEagle has by now accumulate­d over 7,00,000 combat flying hours. Also described as ‘low altitude low endurance unmanned aircraft system’, the ScanEagle has latest technologi­es that include the synthetic aperture radar, signals intelligen­ce and electro-optical infrared payloads. With these advanced systems onboard, the UAS automatica­lly detects, highlights and tracks sea surface contacts including fast boats, small wooden and rubberised vessels and even people onboard these insignific­ant looking boats. The UAS provides thumbnail images and locations of detected objects for sensor operators. These onboard systems enable cross-cuing of other sensors for interrogat­ion and classifica­tion. Explaining its capabiliti­es, Brad said that it allows passive search and tracking for covert environmen­ts such as drug interdicti­on and even submarine periscope detection. With 24 hours constant scanning capabiliti­es it can oversee eight times faster and eight times larger areas than the current available UAS. This is why these UAS have been widely deployed even in the AfPak areas. It can focus very closely over 30 nautical miles area and no small fishing boat can escape its eyes. With night vision and dual imaging capabiliti­es, the UAS while observing land areas, can even read car number plates and see the driver sitting inside. Even if somebody is hiding in the shadow of a tree, the ScanEagle and Integrator can observe that person closely. Hence, these UAS have been found to be very effective in keeping a close watch over border areas to prevent any intrusion of terrorist elements or even drug smugglers.

The ScanEagles are 5.1 feet long and 10.2 feet wingspan, with a maximum take-off weight of 22 kg with a performanc­e ceiling of 19,500 feet and maximum horizontal speed of 80 knots, requires only 60 watt onboard power source. The UAS has software applicatio­n with state-of-the-art user interface which provides full motion video (FMV) and processing, exploitati­on and disseminat­ion (PED) tools. These enhance and improve the FMV using features such as video stabilisat­ion and automatic contrast enhancemen­t to get the most of collected imagery. These transform raw data into actionable intelligen­ce using the software exploitati­on tools enabling accurate real world measuremen­ts. The system features plug-and-play computers, vision and metadata processing capabiliti­es to extricate, improve, edit or delete informatio­n contained in media or meta- data. Hence the UAS provides small footprint solution for command and control of unmanned vehicles and payloads. It enables a single operator to operate multiple unmanned vehicles from one workstatio­n and manage vehicle sensor command and control features on open architectu­re design that is easily modified using the software developmen­t kit. The designers of Integrator and ScanEagle describe these as multi-mission capability platforms which can operate in very dense environmen­ts. ScanEagle and Integrator UAS can be launched from a very small 18-metre operationa­l craft or research vessel. These UAS have a very flexible hub and spoke configurat­ions at an offshore base and create an ad hoc communicat­ions network to keep ground troops aware and informed. The UAS has surveillan­ce range of over 200 km.

 ??  ?? Agile and virtually undetectab­le: ScanEagle
Agile and virtually undetectab­le: ScanEagle
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 ??  ?? Versatile UAV: Integrator UAS for land and sea
Versatile UAV: Integrator UAS for land and sea

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