By SETH J. FRANTZMAN
Combined Joint Task Force, Operation Inherent Resolve published photos of Scan Eagles being used in Iraq. The caption notes “civilian contractors launch a Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle drone system at Al Asad, Iraq, Mar. 4, 2020. Scan Eagle provides capabilities ranging from intelligence and reconnaissance to surveillance flight capabilities.” To recover it a crane was used: “.S. civilian contractors retrieve a Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle drone system after flight using a universal sky hook at Al Asad, Iraq, Mar. 4, 2020.”
This brings up the background of these UAVs in Iraq. A search of the archives of the Department of Defense photos shows some details. In 2007 “Australian Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle launched to begin a mission over Iraq, Dec. 28. Scan eagle is a low cost, long endurance UAV capable of surveillance of ground activities.”
February 2009, another photo shows “Senior Airman David Brock, 887th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron Scan Eagle maintainer, attaches a wing to a Scan Eagle unmanned aerial system before flight Feb. 25. Scan Eagle operators and maintainers are drawn from regular 887th ESFS units and had to apply, interview and be accepted into the program.” Also in the same month “U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Max Kimmel, right, 887th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, explains the function of the Scan Eagle Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.” At Camp Bucca later that year a Scan Eagle is launched at night. “Senior Airman Quantral Fletcher, 887th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron Scan Eagle maintainer, prepares to launch a Scan Eagle unmanned aerial system from a catapult at Burge Field, Feb. 25. The Scan Eagle does not require a runway to take off or land. It is launched into the air by a pneumatic catapult and recovered by a Sky Hook system.”
2011 at sea
A Scan Eagle is retrieved for use on a ship by AFRICOM. “Members of the Scan Eagle team position the Skyhook arrested recovery system over the flight deck to remove a Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Comstock. The Skyhook system allows Scan Eagle to operate from several platforms, including forward fields, mobile vehicles and small ships. Scan Eagle is a runway independent, long-endurance, unmanned aerial vehicle system designed to provide multiple surveillance, reconnaissance data, and battlefield damage assessment missions. Comstock is part of the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and is underway in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility.” The drones had also done work in the Pacific.
They get shot down too
Several have been lost over the years, including this one in Iraq.