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Insitu Celebrates One Million Flight Hours
Insitu exists to pioneer and innovate in all that we do so that we save lives and change the course of history. This is a bold statement and Insitu’s decades of mission support for governments all over the world are a testament to our ability and drive to fulfill our purpose in service to the warfighter.
For decades, Insitu has provided end-to-end information solutions to the US armed forces and global partners. The actionable intelligence provided by our unmanned systems, intuitive software and team of more than 400 Field Service Representatives not only allows our customers to make better decisions through superior information, but also protect and save lives. Additionally, our experienced team of training professionals offers customized training for operators, technicians, mission coordinators, engineers, developers and instructors. Thanks to the more than two decades of experience serving our customers in these ways, Insitu has accumulated more than 1 million operational flight hours over five oceans and six continents in the pursuit of perfecting the delivery of information in the most complex defense environments.
This has led to Insitu systems being deployed at more than 35 locations, aboard 37 different ship classes. Additionally, we’ve regularly deployed with the Marine Expeditionary Units across the globe. Contact us today to learn more about how our pioneering technologies and experienced team can provide unique, actionable intelligence for real-time decision-making when the stakes are high.
Challenge: About 70 percent of the cocaine consumed in the United States passes through a corridor that runs up to the borders of Guatemala and El Salvador before continuing north through a network of underground cartels. Keeping the United States and its peaceful allies safe by combating this flow of illicit contraband and dismantling the transnational criminal organizations behind it is a priority for the men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard.
Solution: In the spring of 2017 Insitu’s ScanEagle® deployed aboard the USCGC STRATTON, marking the first time a U.S. Coast Guard National Security Cutter deployed fully equipped with a small unmanned aerial system (sUAS) for an entire patrol. The aircraft’s payloads provided the crew with full motion infrared and full-color video, telescopic optics and wide-area precision mapping and enabled operators to transition from daytime to nighttime missions without returning ScanEagle to the ship. ScanEagle is the only Group 2 UAS platform capable of flying the Visual Detection and Ranging (ViDAR) payload, which dramatically increases the detection area and operational success by continuously scanning the ocean and autonomously detecting objects in the water.
Result: This real-time imagery of targets of interest gave the STRATTON crew increased situational awareness, minimized safety concerns for interdiction assets and enabled greater efficiency in prosecuting cases. Coast Guardsmen were able to maintain continuous, positive contact with suspect vessels when crews dumped their illicit cargo and attempted to flee. By the end of the first deployment, ScanEagle and Insitu personnel had directly assisted the STRATTON crew in seizing more than 3,695 pounds of illicit contraband valued at $55 million and apprehending 10 suspected drug traffickers. During the ship’s second patrol, crews seized 50,550 pounds of cocaine and heroin worth an estimated wholesale value of $700 million. Both events contributed to the Coast Guard setting a record for drug interdictions in a single year with an estimated $6.1 billion worth of heroin and cocaine seized in 2017. The USCG’s fight against transnational organized crime groups shows no signs of slowing down as they continue to employ new methods and technologies. In January of 2018, USCGC STRATTON equipped with ScanEagle began the year by offloading more than 47,000 pounds of cocaine worth over $721 million during a mid-patrol break.
By Brock Gibson, Vice President Field Operations
For 240 consecutive years, residents of the United States of America have together thrown a colossal birthday party for their country on July 4th. This national celebration is a tribute to the historical day that marked the beginning of a monumental adventure: our nation’s independence.
In reflection of our most recent Independence Day celebration, I would like to pay tribute to just a few of the many brave individuals at Insitu who have placed themselves in danger and sacrificed precious moments with their loved ones to maintain our freedoms and safety in the United States. The best way to demonstrate the incredible work being done away from home is to share a few stories recounted to me over the years by our field service representatives (FSR) at Insitu, who, like our servicemen and women, make sacrifices to ensure the success of our customers as they operate our technology in support of various national interests.
The first brief story I will share, like many others, is a story of perseverance and impeccable performance. Roughly eight years ago, during a time of rampant terrorism in the Pacific Islands, a team of Insitu’s FSRs were called into duty to support a customer by providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) services. Our team spent several months deployed while collecting intelligence on the most active terrorists in the area, who were allegedly responsible for harboring the militants that led the 2002 Bali bombings, killing over 200 people.
As a result of our team’s tenacious information-gathering, our customer was able to identify the precise locations from where the top terrorist responsible for attacks in the region was operating. This man was subsequently fatally injured in a successful raid, while Insitu provided continued over watch using ISR assets. The expertise of our customer in utilizing actionable intelligence supported by the integral services of our FSR’s enabled the elimination of this terrorist.
The second story I will share is one you are likely familiar with. In 2009, Captain Richard Phillips was kidnapped from his cargo ship, the Maersk Alabama, by Somali pirates. As you may have seen in the Hollywood depiction of this event, Captain Phillips was taken from his ship and held hostage on a lifeboat with the pirates.
When a rescue plan was put into motion, Insitu’s deployed team and ISR assets were called in to provide support for the U.S. Navy. With ScanEagle providing over watch for the rescue mission, snipers aboard the U.S.S. Bainbridge were able to take out the pirates, saving the life of Captain Phillips.
Just a few years ago, a team of our FSRs was deployed with the Czech Republic in Afghanistan. As they began to conduct initial flight tests of the ScanEagle system, our team noticed some suspicious activity surrounding the forward operating base (FOB): a group of people appeared to be hiding outside the FOB underneath a tarp. After alerting the command team at the FOB, our FSRs completed initial system checks and immediately extended the mission to providing operational support. Guided by live intelligence from ScanEagle, our FSRs directed a group of people from the FOB onto the target, which resulted in a large firefight. This quick and precise performance from both our FSRs and the customer resulted in the halting of a planned attack on the FOB, and likely the saving of several lives.
A recent maritime operation in the Mediterranean Sea with our British customer shifted to a humanitarian relief effort when the crew renewed their focus on rescuing refugees who had risked their lives to flee Syria. Shortly after the mission shifted, our team operating ScanEagle was able to locate a small boat in the middle of the sea, which was overloaded with over 100 refugees. The crew brought them onto the ship, rescuing them from a situation that the refugees surely would not have survived. This mission and several others in the ensuing weeks resulted in the saving of hundreds of lives in the Mediterranean.
Closer to home, on the border of Arizona and Mexico, our FSRs teamed up with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to conduct an operational demonstration of ScanEagle’s capabilities. Within the first 50 minutes after launch, the demonstration team used our night vision sensor to locate a group of drug traffickers who were carrying a load of illegal drugs across the border in backpacks in the dead of night. Our team was able to talk the border patrol agents step by step to the exact location of the drug traffickers, resulting in a successful seizure and arrest.
In the summer of 2015, Insitu had the opportunity to directly support a fire suppression effort in Olympic National Park, Washington – the state that is home to our headquarters.
Our team was able to prove not only that our operations were safe and well-organized, but also that flying in conjunction with our systems could make the pilots of manned aircraft more effective in their fire suppression drops. They began to realize the utility of our sensors in that they could define something that even experienced pilots could not see – the hot spots masked by smoke and debris that were fueling the rest of the fire. When the pilots of the manned aircraft started to realize the synergy that can exist between manned and unmanned assets in fire suppression efforts, their attitudes shifted from being reluctant to have our team operating nearby, to preferring our team’s support in fighting the fire.
I share this handful of stories with you as a tribute to the incredible efforts and dedication of our customers as well as our deployed team members at Insitu, as these men and women collaborate to protect our national interests on a daily basis.
These brave individuals take on challenges away from their own families and homes, so that we do not have to endure the ravages and conditions of these events happening within our own borders. It is because of their sacrifices that we are each able to go about our daily lives in peace and celebration of our independence.
In closing, I would personally like to thank all of our deployed team members and our customers for their efforts and dedication to preserving our safety and independence in the United States.