Boeing chases growing UAS market with Insitu buy

Boeing Co. has acquired Insitu Inc., a builder of unmanned aerial systems used for intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The acquisition is part of a strategy to aggressively grow the aerospace giant's presence in the unmanned systems market, Boeing officials said in a news release issued today. They added that Boeing government customers are keenly interested in such systems to address a wide range of requirements for reconnaissance and surveillance missions.

The two firms have worked together for the past six years, during which they developed the ScanEagle unmanned system, which is used by U.S. and allied military forces.

Boeing plans to establish Insitu as a subsidiary of St. Louis-based Boeing Integrated Defense Systems' Military Aircraft unit. Boeing expects to close the transaction by the end of September.

Established in 1994, Insitu makes unmanned systems for commercial and military customers. The company has about 360 employees and forecasts revenue of about $150 million this year, Boeing said.

In June, Boeing and Insitu announced that they had won a $65 million contract from the Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, Md., to continue operating ScanEagle. The Navy bought the system in 2005 and has deployed it on 15 vessels of different classes, Boeing officials said.

ScanEagle, which carries electro-optical and infrared cameras, can fly above 16,000 feet and observe or track targets for more than 20 hours. Navy and Marine Corps forces have used it on sea and land in conjunction with operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. ScanEagle does not require an airfield to take off and land; rather, it is launched via a pneumatic launcher and recovered with a special hook apparatus.

Boeing, of Chicago, ranks No. 2 on Washington Technology's 2008 Top 100 list of the largest federal government prime contractors.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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