ScanEagle Sniffs Biological Threats, Tells When You Have to Start Running

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Boeing Phantom Works, the guys who get to do all the awesome planes and play with the alien ships at Area 51, have modified and successfully tested ScanEagle unmanned air vehicles to "intercept, detect and fly through simulated biological plumes or clouds to collect airborne agents." This means that the aircraft above will allow troops to locate biological threats faster, all without having to use trebuchets to launch goats into danger areas to test, which is the way they probably did it before (may not be as effective, but it could be a lot funnier. Fetchez la vache!) Full details after the jump.

ST. LOUIS, March 10, 2008 — The U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and Boeing [NYSE: BA] have demonstrated successfully that ScanEagle unmanned air vehicles modified to look for biological warfare agents can effectively intercept, detect and fly through simulated biological plumes or clouds to collect airborne agents.

Tests also show that the UAVs can successfully collect airborne material and data from a target site that can help U.S. forces combat the threat from biological agents and minimize the danger to friendly forces and civilians.

During the developmental tests at Fort Leonard Wood and the operational tests in the Gulf of Mexico, two BCAS ScanEagle UAVs, one equipped with a biological collection system and the other equipped with sensors to perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), flew tandem beyond-line-of-sight missions into and out of simulated counterforce strike target locations. They were to collect air samples within simulated biological plumes, which represented the collateral effects of counterforce strikes on weapons-of-mass-destruction research and production facilities, and bring back the samples for further analysis.

In the final operational demonstration tests in late January, the two BCAS ScanEagles were launched at sea from the NAVAIR 38 ship, successfully intercepted seven of eight simulated biological plumes, then were successfully recovered aboard the ship and decontaminated.

The biological collection ScanEagle is equipped with bio-collection and plume tracking systems that are integrated into a unique customer payload that is designed specifically for the BCAS. The ISR ScanEagle incorporates significant data storage upgrades over the stock ScanEagle, along with unique beyond-line-of-sight picture snapshot technologies specifically designed for the BCAS mission.