Marine Corps eyes Boeing for ScanEagle

The Marine Corps has awarded Boeing Company an $18 million follow-on contract to provide ongoing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support for the Marine Expeditionary Forces' ScanEagle unmanned aircraft program.

The three-and-a-half year competitive award follows a sole-source contract for the joint Marine Corps and Navy program, which is scheduled to be fully operational in 2010, said David Langness, team leader for the MEF ISR services contract at Boeing.

So far, ScanEagles have flown more than 4,600 sorties and 50,000 hours, including 34,000 hours with the Marines.

The new contract calls for several system upgrades that will broaden ScanEagle's operations and allow it to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, said Jim Havard, Marine Expeditionary Forces program manager at Boeing.

ScanEagles are equipped with specially stabilized electro-optical and infrared cameras that permit the operator to track both stationary and moving targets. Capable of flying above 16,000 feet, the unmanned aircraft provides low-altitude reconnaissance.

'This bridge contract for services basically covers the time frame between now and when the [program] would go into effect,' Langness said.

The new award includes a number of options for additional support that could potentially increase the value to $381.5 million over the same time period if all the options are exercised, expanding the surveillance program from 12 hours a day seven days a week to 24 hours a day seven days a week, he said. 'And it would increase the number of systems as well,' Langness added. 'That potentially could increase it to that value.'

Team ScanEagle is composed of Boeing, in partnership with Insitu Inc., developer of the long-endurance, fully autonomous unmanned aircraft, which has been used by the Marines since July 2004.

The Navy adopted the program in September 2005 and the Australian Defense Forces adopted it in November 2006.

David Hubler writes for Washington Technology, an 1105 Government Information Group publication.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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