Reaper UAV

The US Air Force has declared the initial operational capability of the latest version of Gorgon Stare remotely controlled, aircraft-based persistent wide-area airborne surveillance (WAAS) system developed by Sierra Nevada.

Increment 2 Gorgon Stare was deployed in Afghanistan earlier this year.

Gorgon Stare is a spherical array of nine cameras installed onboard General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft (RPA). It provides real-time situational awareness for both soldiers and commanders involved in large scale operations. Near-real-time forensics capability provided by the system enables rapid adversary pattern-of-life analysis.

Increment 2 leverages on the experience gained from the Increment 1 Gorgon Stare and other related Department of Defense ISR programmes.

"The upgraded system provides a four-fold increase in area coverage and a two-fold improvement in resolution compared to its predecessor."

The upgraded system provides a four-fold increase in area coverage and a two-fold improvement in resolution compared to its predecessor.

The Increment 2 system incorporates an electro-optical sensor derived from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and BAE Systems’ Argus technology, and an infrared sensor manufactured by Exelis.

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Sierra Nevada ISR Persistent Surveillance Systems business area vice-president Dave Bullock said the total government-industry team has deployed a never-before built system that delivers urgently needed and unprecedented warfighting capabilities.

"The Increment 2 system will make a significant contribution to preserving the lives of our deployed troops," Bullock said.

Having purpose-designed Gorgon Stare’s open architecture to quickly and manageably accept new technologies, SNC team is now preparing the technologies to align with the USAF’s capability based assessment covering future global combatant commander wide-area motion imagery (WAMI) requirements and emerging threats.

The Increment 1 Gorgon Stare system has provided more than 10,000 hours of direct combat support by flying long duration sorties in Afghanistan since March 2011.

Image: Increment 2 Gorgon Stare was flown on General Atomic’s MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force photo / Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson.

Defence Technology