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Successful Demonstration Of Persistent Unmanned Maritime Surveillance

Predator UAV.
by Staff Writers
Farnborough UK (SPX) Jul 25, 2006
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, a leading manufacturer of unmanned aircraft and high-resolution surveillance and radar imaging systems, has announced its successful participation in the recent U.S. Navy Experiment Trident Warrior 2006 (TW06) off the coast of Southern California.

Featuring live play of operational ships and aircraft, TW06 is the U.S. Navy's primary FORCEnet Sea Trial experiment series and is designed to evaluate emerging technologies and network-centric toolsets to enhance situational awareness at all levels of the naval decision-making chain of command.

Over the course of its participation from June 13 to 16, GA-ASI, in partnership with Lockheed Martin (LM), operated a Predator(r) B unmanned aircraft system (UAS) configured for maritime surveillance in support of fleet and homeland security objectives. The Predator B UAS was called "Mariner Demonstrator II" during the exercise.

"The GA-ASI/LM team was assigned several tasks during TW06 requiring intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance [ISR]. We felt these tasks were completed with great success," said Thomas J. Cassidy, Jr., president, Aircraft Systems Group, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems.

"Our primary accomplishment was the integration of the ELTA 2022 Seawatch maritime radar with a digital output compatible with the digital satellite data link. The ELTA radar provided excellent performance in the execution of the maritime mission. Predator B's performance was outstanding and demonstrated the performance versatility for success in maritime surveillance by operating from 2,000 ft to above 40,000 ft."

"The results from Trident Warrior showed that Predator B/Mariner Demonstrator II greatly enhanced the situational awareness of the Naval Warfighter," said commander Tony Parrillo, Trident Warrior program manager and director of the FORCEnet Execution Center, a part of the Navy's Network Warfare Command.

"The system correctly tracked a variety of targets, including one that had been misidentified using other means, displayed a very flexible operating envelope, and tracked a high-interest target for an entire day from a considerable stand-off range."

Over a four-day period, the GA-ASI/LM team successfully demonstrated the ability to provide versatile UAS operations in the maritime and littoral regions with onboard sensors that were able to detect, classify, identify and track vessels day or night and in various weather conditions; and provide data for near real-time maritime surveillance, targeting and battle damage assessment.

"Trident Warrior 06 provided an excellent opportunity to work with the U.S. Navy's Network Warfare Command and Third Fleet to evaluate the value of a Predator B UAS to provide real-time information to the warfighter," said Rick Martin, vice president for business integration at Lockheed Martin's Tactical Systems business unit.

"The star of the show was the Mariner Demonstrator II, a cousin to the Predator B developed by our partner GA-ASI. The maturity and versatility of their system allowed us to operate a number of missions in a maritime environment to assess the improvement in situational awareness that a persistent UAS can provide to the U.S. Navy."

GA-ASI provided the Predator B aircraft equipped with a maritime surface search radar, an electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) camera system and Automatic Identification System (AIS), along with the ground control station (GCS). Lockheed Martin provided the Maritime Mission System Processor (MMSP), which was fully integrated into the Predator B system, and the Mission Control System (MCS).

Flights were conducted via satellite data link from the GA-ASI Gray Butte Flight Operations Facility in Palmdale, CA, and data was distributed to the LM Global Vision Center (GVC) in San Diego for further distribution to other LM sites and the fleet. The combined GA-ASI/LM system was designed to address a growing set of needs for the U.S. Navy's Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) program, including the ability to provide persistent maritime and littoral ISR information directly to fleet commanders.

During the team's participation in the experiment, it achieved several "firsts," including operating a maritime radar at both extreme low and high altitudes; demonstrating automated queuing of an EO/IR camera system in a UAS to radar and AIS contacts; and demonstrating Level 3 payload control of an EO/IR camera from a second reach-back facility.

Other noteworthy accomplishments included operating a maritime radar over a digital data link and using a one-way data link from the UAS to distribute sensor imagery to forces on the shore via a remote video terminal (RVT). In addition, the team made significant strides in data dissemination, including command and control between various U.S. Navy and U.S. Department of Homeland Security networks, LM's GVC and GA-ASI's Gray Butte Facility via voice over IP (VOIP).

Related Links
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems
UAV Technology at

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