The Dutch navy is using a new unmanned aircraft to search for pirates in the Gulf of Aden, the Telegraaf reports on Friday.
The ScanEagle was flown for the first time from the deck of naval ship the Rotterdam on Wednesday and made a nine hour flight, says the paper.
ScanEagle operations from a couple of years ago - from a U.S. Navy ship:
One of the unmanned tools that make launch platform more flexible (and less role specific) and their technology current - or, as Admiral Greenert recently put in a U.S. Naval Institute piece, Payloads over Platforms: Charting a New Course:
To ensure our Navy stays relevant, these platforms have to adapt to the changing fiscal, security, and technological conditions they will encounter over their long service lives. It is unaffordable, however, to adapt a platform by replacing either it or its integral systems each time a new mission or need arises. We will instead need to change the modular weapon, sensor, and unmanned vehicle “payloads” a platform carries or employs. In addition to being more affordable, this decoupling of payload development from platform development will take advantage of a set of emerging trends in precision weapons, stealth, ship and aircraft construction, economics, and warfare . . .This was part of the discussion of a recent Midrats episode with Norman Friedman.
We also are in the early stages of incorporating unmanned payloads on our manned ships to further expand their reach on, above, and below the sea. Starting in 2005, we began equipping amphibious ships (LPDs, LSDs, and LHAs) and destroyers with the Scan Eagle UAV under a services contract for maritime and littoral intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR). Operating for up to 15 hours at a nominal range of 50 nautical miles from its host platform, Scan Eagle provides critical and unobtrusive day and night imagery in support of counterterrorism, counterpiracy, surface warfare, and irregular warfare missions—as well as helping to uncover other illicit activities at sea.
A greater operation range - one extended by the use of such a drone as is being employed by the Dutch- means fewer ships are needed to patrol the same area and allows for optimization of ship usage.