ADVANCED AIRBORNE-surveillance projects are among 18 advanced-concept technology demonstrations (ACTDs) on which the US Department of Defense plans to spend $99 million in fiscal year 1997.

The demonstrations were selected from 100 proposals submitted by the US military. The projects have been approved by the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, the Pentagon's senior advisory body.

The demonstrations began two years ago and one weapon, the General Atomics Predator unmanned air vehicle, is now in operation in Bosnia. One ACTD will test foliage-penetrating radars and hyper-spectral imaging (HSI), mounted on high-altitude airborne platforms. The US Air Force hopes to use the system to detect obscured and camouflaged targets.

There will be a demonstration of HSI on the Predator drone this year, followed by a real-time processor test during FY97. Airborne demonstration flight integration will occur the following year, with user tests over the next two years.

The Pentagon will also test advanced munitions and sensors designed to locate and attack surface-to-air missile batteries, deeply buried weapons and nuclear weaponry. The Pentagon previously tested a cruise-missile defence radar from a mountaintop, and it will now use airborne sensors to demonstrate extended-range, over-the-horizon, engagement of low-flying cruise missiles. Existing advanced-surveillance and fire-control sensors will be mounted on fixed-wing and aerostat platforms for demonstrations to be conducted over land and sea.

The US military will also investigate helicopter advanced health-and-usage monitoring systems (HUMS) and test advanced airborne infra-red and laser-radar devices for drug interdiction and surveillance missions. The Pentagon also hopes to develop a rapid, high-resolution, digital terrain-data-gathering capability.

Source: Flight International