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A first for the Spanish Navy. A Scan Eagle drone embarked in the Indian Ocean

the Scan Eagle on the deck of the Galicia (credit: Spanish Navy)
the Scan Eagle on the deck of the Galicia (credit: Spanish Navy)

(B2) Spanish sailors have deployed a Scan Eagle drone on the amphibious ship Galicia (1) which operates in the Indian Ocean and serves as flagship of the EUNAVFOR Atalanta operation. A first for the Spanish navy which had not tested this drone in a maritime operation (2).

Scan Eagle is " become one of the means of producing more valuable information " for the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) in Operation Atalanta, which operates in the waters of the Indian Ocean, the Spanish Army General Staff points out. Sspecially designed for data, imaging and video acquisition, day and night, it provides " images in real time, discreetly, and over a long period of time (it can fly continuously for more than 18 hours). This greatly helps in decision making ».

At the beginning of September, the “Scan Eagle” has already flown 175 hours “ without noticeable damage ". In June, he carried out reconnaissance missions on the coast northern Somalia, and more recently on the eastern coast of Somalia in order to " identify and locate possible illegal activities in the coastal strip, linked to piracy ».

The system consists of four devices, one of which is specially designed for image acquisition and night flight. Drones are launched from from a catapult from the ship's deck. Information collection is carried out using a camera, located in the wing of the drone. Antennas ensure the exchange of information between the control station and the drone. The pilot station is located in the flight of the ship's hangar where the operators of the newly formed 11th squadron, within the Spanish Naval Aeronautics, are located. This embarked air unit (UNAEMB), dedicated entirely to the "Scan Eagle", made of 3 pilot officers, as well as 3 non-commissioned officers and 1 sailor for maintenance and flight preparation work


(1) The amphibious assault ship Galicia is the flagship for the EUNAVFOR Atalanta operation for this summer-autumn period until October 6, the date of the change of command.

(2) This system has already been deployed in Afghanistan, on the Qala i Naw Forward Support Base (FSB) until the withdrawal of the Spanish contingent in 2013.


Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).