May 29, 2012: Singapore has begun operating ScanEagle UAVs from their 600 ton Victory class corvettes. A ScanEagle weighs 19 kg (40 pounds), has a 3.2 meter (ten foot) wingspan, and uses day and night video cameras. This makes it easier for the UAV, flying over land or water, to spot small speed boats or individual vehicles.
Cruising speed is 110 kilometers an hour. The ScanEagle can stay in the air for up to 15 hours per flight and fly as high as 5 kilometers (16,000 feet). The aircraft carries an optical system that is stabilized to keep the cameras focused on an object while the UAV moves. The UAV can operate at least a hundred kilometers from the ground controller. The ScanEagle is launched from a catapult and landed via a wing hook that catches a rope hanging from a fifty foot pole. This makes it possible to operate the UAV from the helicopter pad on the stern (rear) of a warship.
Each ScanEagle costs about $100,000 and is still widely used by commercial fishing, ocean survey, and research ships as well as military organizations in several countries. Scan Eagle has been flying for about a decade now and has been in military service since 2005.
The six Victory class corvettes entered service in the late 1980s. The crew of 49 operates navigation and search radar, as well as sonar. The ships are armed with a 76mm cannon, eight anti-ship missiles, 16 short range anti-aircraft missiles, six anti-submarine torpedoes, and four 12.7mm machine-guns. Max speed is 69 kilometers an hour, while cruising speed is 33 kilometers an hour. Endurance is about nine days (at cruising speed). Singapore is an island nation consisting of the city of Singapore. So ships with long range are not necessary. The addition of the ScanEagle makes these corvettes even more formidable for such small ships.