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Avalon 2011: LM reveals Dragon ISR solution

1st March 2011 - 09:23 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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Lockheed Martin has officially unveiled its 'Dragon' series of multiple-ISR aircraft and ground systems at the Avalon international airshow in Melbourne, Australia.

According to Charles Gulledge, Program Manager for Strategic Programs C4ISR Systems Division at Lockheed Martin, the six categories of systems are designed at providing tailor-made solutions for military, homeland security and humanitarian missions.

The Dragon family comprises the 'Scout' which upgrades larger jet aircraft such as G-IV, G550 and Global Express airframes with ISR systems for 'enduring requirements and large geographic areas of interest'. Dragon 'Shield' comprises a roll-on/roll-off sensor suite suitable for C-130 and Casa C-295 aircraft and is designed for flexible and multiple missions including airlift and ISR capabilities.

Dragon 'Star' deals with the conversion of medium-sized jets and turboprops and includes Lockheed Martin's AML or Airborne Multi-Intelligence Laboratory airframe, which was on show for the first time in Australia this week. 

Dragon 'Stare' comprises upgrades for Hawker, King Air and fast-air platforms while 'Den' and 'Net Dragon' configurations provide ground processing stations and contractor owned and operated solutions respectively.

Gulledge said all systems could be upgraded in three to 30 months, depending on airframe size and configuration.

Currently, a single Dragon Shield C-130 is flying with the US Air Force; in the Dragon Star bracket, a single AML is currently undergoing tests with the US Army, while a Dash-7 airframe is operational with the same user. Elsewhere, in the Dragon Stare category, South Korea is operating three Hawker 800s with a C-12 also in operation with an undisclosed user.

Dragon provides signals intelligence (SIGINT) comprising electronic and communications intelligence; image intelligence (IMINT) comprising EO/IR, SAR/GMTI sensors; interphone communications systems; common and tactical data links; and satellite communications for line-of-sight (LoS) and beyond LoS capabilities.

Referring to the Asia-Pacific market, Gulledge told DB: 'There is a requirement within the Australian military for this type of capability and with the geography of this area, this type of configuration could be very powerful for them.

'In Asia, it could be used for economic exclusion zones and coverage of large swatches of geography in a surveillance mode,' he continued while referring to Dragon Scout and Stare mission profiles. Gulledge added that customers would also be attracted to dual-use airlift and ISR capabilities for existing C-295s in the Asia-Pacific market area.

Elsewhere, Lockheed Martin is in the final design phase of its own Dragon Shield C-295 platform for the Finnish armed forces with Gulledge explaining that it would soon begin final configuration of the airframe.

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