U.K. Royal Navy Type 23 frigate. The UAV was put
through trials last month on a Singaporean Navy frigate
and a tank landing ship.
In the Navy and Marine Corps’ planning, the ScanEagle
is a gap-filler for the future Small Tactical Unmanned
Aerial System (STUAS, known as Group 3, formerly Tier
II, UAS, for the Marine Corps).
The STUAS will be a procurement program for a
UAV small enough to not require a runway. The Navy
released a performance document in November and
has been releasing more information on the program
parameters as they have developed.
“We are taking a somewhat less predictable approach
to this program,” said Rear Adm. William Shannon, the
Navy’s program executive officer for strike weapons and
unmanned aviation. “We are trying to be more agile, trying to get this out to the warfighter faster. Instead of one
full RFP [request for proposals], we’ve been releasing a
series of bits of information on the program. As we’re
absolutely sure about one piece, we’ll release it.”
Shannon said the requirements are being shaped by the
input from various future operators of STUAS, including
the surface warfare, amphibious warfare, Riverine and special operations communities, as well as the Marine Corps.
The goal is to reach initial operating capability in 2011,
following a competition and a demonstration phase.
The STUAS air vehicle is required to operate from
ship or shore with 10-hour endurance, a service ceiling
of 15,000 feet and a maximum weight of 150 pounds.
The UAV would carry EO and IR sensors and, for maritime operations, an AIS repeater.
For the Marine Corps, “the primary mission for Tier
II/STUAS (Group 3) will be ISR, target acquisition and
communications relay,” said Maj. Thomas Heffern, UAS
capabilities officer for the service’s Combat Development
Directorate. “However, future upgrades may include ISR
payloads other than the standard EO/IR full-motion
video sensor: synthetic aperture radar, [signals intelli-gence], multispectral, etc. Future growth might also
include a weapons delivery capability.” ■