Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has taken delivery of the ScanEagle small unmanned aircraft system (UAS) from Insitu Pacific for use by the Japanese Ground Self-Defence Forces (JGSDF).
Ordered under a contract awarded in July 2012, the UAS will now undergo comprehensive evaluations to prepare for entry into operational service with JGSDF over the next year.
The drone is scheduled to be used by JGSDF for damage assessment and provision of vital real-time information regarding natural and man-made disasters, in addition to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.
Commenting on the delivery, Insitu Pacific business development director Dale McDowall said: "The benefits ScanEagle brings to Japan are substantial and this well-proven UAS could help save many lives in the future by getting information into the right hands quickly."
Based on the Insitu SeaScan UAV, ScanEagle is a small, low-cost, long-endurance UAS designed to provide real-time direct situational awareness and force protection information to both warfighters and commanders in the battlefield.
Equipped with four air vehicles, a ground control station, remote video terminal, and a launch and recovery system, the 4ft-long fully autonomous drone can operate either individually or in groups over designated zones.
Launched by a pneumatic wedge catapult and retrieved by the Skyhook system, ScanEagle is capable of providing more than 15 consecutive hours of on-station coverage even in adverse weather conditions, including high winds and heavy rains.
The UAS is currently operated by the armed forces of Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Colombia, Poland, Singapore, Netherlands and the US.
Image: A US Marine Corps' ScanEagle UAV mounted on its catapult prior to launch for a mission in Iraq. Photo: courtesy of US Army gunnery sergeant Shannon Arledge of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.