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Aerial drone scans for pirates off Somalia

Staff Writer |
A crew from Spain’s 11th Squadron and its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) are currently deployed to help scan for potential pirate activity off of Somalia.

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The UAV crew, usually based in Cadiz, has been conducting air surveillance and reconnaissance patrols off the Somali coast using its drone Scan Eagle from the deck of Spanish Navy ship ESPS Galicia on patrol with counter-piracy military operation EU NAVFOR Somalia, also known as Operation Atalanta.

Once in the air, Scan Eagle obtains images and video of maritime events in real-time, at night or during the day, for flights up to 18 hours long.

The drone is said to be relatively easy to operate and control, but in order to get airborne, the Scan Eagle needs to be catapulted off the deck using a "super wedge" launcher system and recovered using a maritime "skyhook" retrieval system.

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