Czech Army to purchase ScanEagle mini-drone UAVs from U.S.

The Army of the Czech Republic (ACR) intends to purchase new fleets of surveillance and combat drones under a CZK1 billion ($47 million) program unveiled on November 29. The ACR plan includes procuring ScanEagle UAVs from Boeing subsidiary Insitu in 2019 at the cost of CZK200 million ($9.3 million).

Czech Army to purchase ScanEagle mini drone UAVs from United States 925 001  
AL ASAD, Iraq--ScanEagle UAV sits on the catapult prior to launch. A small detachment of Marines and civilians is deployed here to provide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance in western Iraq. (Picture source Wikipedia )

The small, long-endurance low-altitude drones are already utilized by the ACR in Afghanistan, where it fields ten such systems. The military also intends to procure armed combat drones post-2020. Along with the ScanEagle the ACR currently operates a mix of mini-drones, including the AeroVironment RQ-11, AeroVironment Wasp III and the Elbit Skylark I.

The ScanEagle is a mini unmanned aerial vehicle developed by the American Company Insitu and Boeing at the Phantom Works facility. By the end of the first quarter of 2007, it had completed over 30,000 combat operational flight hours, including operations over Iraq. The payloads include electro-optical and infrared sensors, biological and chemical sensors, laser designators and a magnetometer for identification and locating magnetic anomalies.

The expansion of the ACR drone fleet comes as the country has slowly revisited long-dormant modernization needs in the wake of Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Destabilizing activities undertaken by the Kremlin in eastern Ukraine, coupled with prior annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014, prompted Prague to address major deficiencies in the atrophying Czech military brought on by years of under-investment. The current 2017 defense budget reflects a 10 percent nominal increase from 2016.

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