Aug. 10, 2012 defense-unmanned.com
(Source: Dutch Ministry of Defence; issued Aug. 9, 2012)
(Issued in Dutch only; unofficial translation by defense-aerospace.com)
Defence’s new unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, the Scan Eagle, yesterday made its first operational flight over the Gulf of Aden.
The aircraft took off from the amphibious ship HNMS Rotterdam in the early morning on a flight of more than 9 hours. A 19-member team of the Royal Dutch Army, which operated at sea for the first time, provided for the deployment of the Scan Eagle. Specialists of the Joint Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance Commando from Harde gathered information for the NATO counter-piracy mission, Ocean Shield.
"Our job is to provide the commander with information and intelligence to support the preparation and execution of the mission," said Major Chris Sievers, commander of the team. A reconnaissance sweep of unknown ships to detect and investigate possible pirate activity was the first task. "Even in this heat, with about 45 degrees Celsius, the system held up well and we had no problems," said one of the operators.
The Scan Eagle, with a wingspan of over 3 meters, can monitor suspect ships from the air and collect evidence about possible pirate activities. The system can fly over 16 hours and has both daylight and infrared cameras, whose live video images are transmitted. A catapult shoots the aircraft, which is recovered by a hook attached to a pole when it comes in for lading.
The amphibious transport ship HNMS Rotterdam is currently patrolling the Gulf of Aden. The 166 meters long Landing Platform Dock has been the flagship of operation Ocean Shield since August 4.
This operation is under the command of the Dutch commander Ben Bekkering. On the ship there are more than 350 crew members belonging not only to the navy but also to the army, air force and gendarmerie. The aim of the mission is to address piracy activities, patrolling the Gulf of Aden, securing ships and strengthen ties with international partners.