Boeing will supply the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) services, according to a new contract.

The IRS services will be provided using the ScanEagle unmanned aircraft system (UAS).

The company will operate, maintain and support ScanEagle systems for the special operations forces mid-endurance unmanned aircraft system (MEUAS) programme for the next five years.

The autonomous ScanEagle UAS carries inertially stabilised electro-optical and infrared cameras to track stationary and moving targets.

The UAS is capable of flying above 16,000ft almost invisibly and inaudibly over the battlefield for more than 24 hours and offers persistent low-altitude ISR.

The UAS is flown either preprogrammed or on operator-initiated missions and is launched from a SuperWedge catapult launcher.

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The SkyHook system used to retrieve the UAS makes it runway-independent and minimises its impact on shipboard operations, similar to a vertical take-off and landing vehicle.

Boeing’s subsidiary Insitu has been providing these services to various clients since 2004.