Yemen is to acquire an Insitu ScanEagle unmanned aircraft system under a USD11 million contract announced by the US Department of Defense (DoD) on 29 September.

The contract covers the procurement of nine electro-optic (EO) and three infrared (IR)-equipped ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), as well as a pneumatic launcher and Skyhook recovery system. The Foreign Military Sales deal also includes one 12-month/3,600 flight-hour sustainment package with acceptance testing, spares, technical manuals, training, a site activation team, field service representative, and force protection.

According to the notification, work will be complete by September 2015.

At 1.2 m long and with a wingspan of 3 m, the piston-engined ScanEagle has a service ceiling of 10,000 ft and an endurance of more than 20 hours. Its modular payload nose can carry an array of sensors, including the EO900 high-magnification daylight EO imager and mid-wave/long-wave IR imager that is the subject of this Yemeni contract.

This ScanEagle contract is part of a wider effort by the US government to improve the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities of the Yemeni armed forces as it looks to counter Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

Over recent years, a number of airborne ISR-related procurements for Yemen have been announced by the DoD, including 25 light observation aircraft (most likely the Seabird Seeker), and two Cessna 208B Grand Caravan aircraft that are now in service with the Yemeni Air and Air Defence Force.

While a June 2014 contract awarded to L-3 Communications' Platform Integration Division to procure and modify four ISR aircraft for Yemen did not identify the platforms, IHS Jane's understands them to be modified Thrush crop-sprayers.

Yemen was expected to receive four AeroVironment RQ-11 Raven UAVs from the United States, although it is unclear if this ScanEagle contract is in place of such a deal or is in addition to it.