(Bingen, WA., April 22, 2008) -- Insitu, Inc. announced today it has flown Heavy Fuel Engine (HFE) equipped ScanEagles in Iraq. This was the first demonstration of HFE technology in a real-world environment and was conducted in cooperation with the US Navy. The HFE equipped ScanEagles have flown more than 350 hours, including flying 12+ hour missions in both land and maritime scenarios. Insitu is pioneering the development of long-range, autonomous unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and advanced tools for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR).
Heavy fuel refers to the kerosene-based fuel used in diesel and/or jet aircraft engines such as JP5, JP8, or Jet-A. Military planners have put the development of a heavy-fuel capability for unmanned aircraft as a high-priority to satisfy the safety concerns of naval operations and to streamline and simplify the logistics for remote deployments. ScanEagles flying in Iraq are using JP5.
Insitu, in partnership with The Boeing Company and Sonex Research, Inc. (Annapolis, MD), developed the HFE to satisfy the needs of warfighters. The system offers significant enhancements to the end user including simple starting and operation, a wider weather envelope, improved reliability, and increased endurance. The effort took two years of development that resulted in more than 2000 hours of testing. During that time, ScanEagle set a new endurance record of 28 hours, 44 minutes in flight using JP5.
Charlie Guthrie, Insitu Chief Technology Officer, remarked, "Real-world testing is imperative in preparing a heavy fuel engine for full deployment. These test flights clearly demonstrate the HFE's operability, maintainability, and reliability to the end user. Our team is working hard to further refine the technology to provide a capable asset for our troops."