Friday, August 31, 2012
By: Craig Hoyle
The Dutch armed forces have performed their first surveillance mission in support of NATO's counter-piracy operation off the coast of Somalia using the Boeing/Insitu ScanEagle unmanned air system.
Launched from the Royal Netherlands Navy's landing platform dock the HNLMS Rotterdam on 8 August, the ScanEagle completed a flight of more than 9h over the Gulf of Aden, the Dutch defence ministry says. Operations with the new UAS are being conducted by a detachment of 19 Royal Netherlands Army personnel deployed aboard the vessel, which has been assigned as the flagship for operation "Ocean Shield" since 4 August.
With a wingspan of more than 3m (9.8ft), the ScanEagle has a maximum endurance in excess of 16h. The aircraft relays live video images from an electro-optical/infrared sensor payload to system operators, and will be used to track the movement of suspected pirate ships.
Two Eurocopter AS532 Cougar transports from the Netherlands Defence Helicopter Command are also deployed aboard the Rotterdam to support the counter-piracy mission.