Seeking more protection for ground forces without enhancing risk to aviators, the U.S. Air Force has engaged Raytheon Company to devise a way for aircraft, from a safe distance, to detect, track and target hostile forces in motion on the ground.
"The U.S. owns the airspace but today's conflicts quickly move to the ground," Nick Uros, vice president for Raytheon's Advanced Concepts and Technology group, said. "We want to keep the war fighter in the air and on the ground out of harm's way as much as possible. One way to do this is to employ an automatic target-recognition system from a stand-off location. Such a capability is on the future road maps of the Air Force, and we are pleased to be able to work with them to develop this important technology. Raytheon has a long and distinguished history and capability in combat identification, as well as other supporting technologies and infrastructure that will be brought to bear on this challenge."
Such a system, which could be mounted on a manned or unmanned aircraft, would reduce the need for personnel on the ground or in the air near a target. Today's advanced high-resolution radar can monitor events from distances of more than 50 miles. The goal of this second stage of the Air-to-Ground Radar Imaging (AGRI) program, funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory's Sensor Directorate, will be to develop and demonstrate software that will permit current radar technology to take on this new mission. The first stage of the AGRI program yielded an automatic recognition capability for stationary targets.
Raytheon will lead a team that includes BAE Systems and SAIC. The contract requires the team to test its proposal initially in October 2006 and conduct a final demonstration in June 2008.
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