Lockheed Martin has announced a series of aircraft and ground station configurations for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) requirements.
The company has long undertaken projects to provide existing platforms with ISR capabilities, but will now label such projects under the Dragon brand. The systems can be used for both military and civilian purposes.
The Dragon programme has six primary iterations: Dragon Scout, Dragon Shield, Dragon Star, Dragon Stare, Dragon Den and Net Dragon. Of these, the first four relate to airborne platforms, the remaining two are ground-based.
These categorisations will expedite the company's obtaining of export clearances from US authorities. Export licences for ISR projects are generally handled on a case-by-case basis, but the standardisation of packages is expected to speed up the clearance process, as authorities will be able to focus only on the exceptional elements of a proposed export deal.
For the aircraft systems Lockheed says the programme can work with a range of types.
For the Avalon show, the company flew in its Airborne Multi-INT laboratory (AML), a 1980s-era Gulfstream III private jet that has been converted into an ISR platform under the Dragon Star configuration.
"The AML provides a readily reconfigurable platform for a wide variety of multi-intelligence experiments and sensor evaluation, and can participate in government and coalition exercises," says the company.
Dragon Scout furnishes large business jets with ISR systems, Dragon Shield provides roll-on/roll-off workstations and sensor suites for types such as Lockheed C-130 Hercules and Alenia Aeronautica C-27J Spartan, and Dragon Star equips medium-sized turboprops with ISR systems. Dragon Stare equips smaller jets, such as the Lockheed F-16, with ISR capabilities.
"We developed the Dragon configurations after extensive customer feedback, technical trade studies, and real world experimentation using our airborne multi-INT laboratory," says Jim Quinn, vice-president with Lockheed's Information Systems & Global Systems Defense division. "The AML allows us to offer customers the ability to 'try before you buy' for each configuration."