Boeing lands support work for unmanned Marines' aircraft program

The Boeing Company has won an $18 million follow-on contract from the Marine Corps to provide ongoing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support for the Marine Expeditionary Forces' ScanEagle unmanned aircraft program.

The three-and-a-half year competitive award follows a sole-source contract for the joint Marine Corps and Navy program, which is scheduled to be fully operational in 2010, said David Langness, team leader for the MEF ISR services contract at Boeing.

"This bridge contract for services basically covers the time frame between now and when the [program] would go into effect," he said.

The new award includes a number of options for additional support that could potentially increase the value to $381.5 million over the same time period if all the options are exercised, expanding the surveillance program from 12 hours a day seven days a week to 24 hours a day seven days a week, Langness said. "And it would increase the number of systems as well," he added. "That potentially could increase it to that value."

Team ScanEagle is composed of Boeing, in partnership with Insitu Inc., developer of the long-endurance, fully autonomous unmanned aircraft, which has been used by the Marines since July 2004.

The Navy adopted the program in September 2005 and the Australian Defense Forces adopted it in November 2006.

So far, ScanEagles have flown more than 4,600 sorties and 50,000 hours, including 34,000 hours with the Marines.

The new contract calls for several system upgrades that will broaden ScanEagle's operations and allow it to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, said Jim Havard, Marine Expeditionary Forces program manager at Boeing.

ScanEagles are equipped with specially stabilized electro-optical and infrared cameras that permit the operator to track both stationary and moving targets. Capable of flying above 16,000 feet, the unmanned aircraft provides low-altitude reconnaissance.

Chicago-based Boeing ranks No. 2 on Washington Technology's 2007 Top 100 list of the largest federal government prime contractors.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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