PAS 2011: WAAS widens its stare
ITT is looking to roll out technology used on board the US Air Force's (USAF) 'Gorgon Stare' UAVs to additional platform types, according to company officials.
The company's Wide Area Airborne Surveillance (WAAS) solution became operational in Afghanistan on board Predator B UAVs earlier in the year but ITT told Shephard that it was now looking at integrating the payload onto static aerostats and lower altitude UAVs.
According to Danny Rajan, ITT director for geospatial information solutions: 'We are talking to customers across the board and are in the process of working through the concept of operations for UAVs and airships, considering smaller form-factors and payloads with a fewer number of cameras.'
Currently, Gorgon Stare comprises a single, nine-camera payload including five EO and four IR sensors. Designed to operate on board the Predator B at altitudes between 15,000 and 25,000ft, Gorgon Stare provides far greater wide area surveillance capabilities than other technology currently employed on UAVs in theatre.
Full motion video footage can also be simultaneously disseminated down to as many as 15 separate remote video terminals on the ground while using a tactical common data link (TCDL), as an example. The payload also comprises a 'real-time forensics' capability allowing a user to replace feeds immediately.
ITT said it had delivered a total of four systems to the USAF, although Rajan was not able to comment on the number deployed on current operations.
In addition, ITT image scientist, Bernard Brower said the company was also considering the next-generation of EO/IR cameras for the system as well as potential for Gorgon Stare to cue additional ISR assets onto a target should its resolution prove insufficient. He also outlined an intention to integrate a laser designator into the system, although he said this would not be directly built into the gimbal itself.
The news follows various technology setbacks to the Gorgon Stare programme, which is led by communications specialist Sierra Nevada. Rajan described 'issues with image quality which involved calibration between cameras and stitching algorithms'.
However, he added that such problems had now been resolved and said the system was 'meeting all requirements' in theatre.
Rajan also outlined aspirations to demonstrate ITT's WAAS technology to the wider international community during 2012. 'We are looking forward to progressing on the WAAS solution flying, whether it be an ITT demonstration or something else,' he stated.
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