The United States Air Force (USAF) recently deployed the latest generation of Gorgon Stare, Department of Defense’s (DoD) remotely controlled, aircraft-based Wide-Area Persistent Surveillance (WAPS) system. Designed and built by an industry team led by Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) mission capability business area, the system builds on and integrates lessons learned from both the Increment 1 Gorgon Stare version and other related DoD ISR programmes.
Hosted and flown on General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft, Gorgon Stare includes the USAF’s only operational day/night persistent wide-area motion imagery (WAMI) capability. The system has flown long duration sorties daily in Afghanistan since March 2011, providing over 10,000 hours of direct combat support. Gorgon Stare provides unprecedented, real-time situational awareness—both for troops in contact and commanders who are directing large scale operations. Simultaneously, it also provides unique near-real-time forensics capability to intelligence analysts that enables rapid adversary pattern-of-life analysis.
This latest generation of the Gorgon Stare system was deployed to the Afghanistan theater earlier this year and has achieved initial operations capability (IOC). This fully upgraded SNC Gorgon Stare system simultaneously provides a four-fold increase in area coverage with a two-fold improvement in resolution compared to its predecessor. The system features two state-of-the-art imaging sensor turrets—an electro-optical (EO) sensor derived from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) ARGUS technology and manufactured by BAE Systems, and an infrared (IR) sensor integrating the largest IR arrays available manufactured by Exelis.
“SNC’s latest Gorgon Stare milestone reflects a total government-industry team effort….together, we’ve rapidly fielded a never-before built, state-of-the-art system that delivers urgently needed and unprecedented warfighting capabilities” Dave Bullock, vice president for SNC’s ISR Persistent Surveillance Systems business area stated. “The Increment 2 system will make a significant contribution to preserving the lives of our deployed troops. I can think of no higher calling.”
With the retrograde of other ISR systems from theater, ground commanders have repeatedly and urgently sought increased Gorgon Stare situational awareness support for force protection, force multiplication, and overall battle management for the remaining forces in theater. The latest version of SNC’s Gorgon Stare provides an enhanced and ready-now WAPS capability that can support warfighters in Afghanistan and the diversified needs of other combatant commands.
From its inception, Gorgon Stare’s open architecture was purpose-designed by SNC to quickly, but manageably, insert new technologies, allowing the USAF to deploy new and evolving best-of-breed capabilities into an operationally mature integrated architecture. The SNC team continues to prepare these technologies to align with the USAF’s Capability Based Assessment covering future world-wide COCOM WAMI requirements and emerging threats. This approach leverages Gorgon Stare’s combat–validated investment, and will most rapidly and affordably provide a future scalable, adaptable multi-INT system that the warfighter already recognizes.
Source: Press Release