A team of antipiracy personnel currently on patrol off Somalia has deployed an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to help scan for potential pirate activity in the region.
As part of the counter-piracy military operation EU NAVFOR Somalia, also known as Operation Atalanta, the UAV crew from Spain’s 11th Squadron has been conducting air surveillance and reconnaissance patrols off the Somali coast using its ScanEagle drone from the deck of Spanish Navy ship ESPS Galicia.
Once in the air, the five-foot-long UAV obtains images and video of maritime events in real-time, at night or during the day, for flights up to 18 hours long. It can operate above 15,000 feet.
The ScanEagle, developed and manufactured by Boeing subsidiary Insitu, has been used by a number of commercial and government operators, including the military forces of Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S.
In order to get airborne, ScanEagle needs to be catapulted off the deck using a ‘super wedge’ launcher system and recovered using a maritime ‘skyhook’ retrieval system.
To date the drone currently being used off Somalia has accumulated more than 500 hours in the air, and its current mission marks the third time its has deployed with Operation Atalanta, the second on board Galicia. Its latest tasks have included aerial surveillance of the recently pirated and released Aris 13 tanker vessel off the northern coast of Somalia.