Sniper location using an unmanned air vehicle is to be evaluated by the US Air Force for potential use in Iraq to protect convoys and bases.

Boeing is to integrate Insitu's ScanEagle UAV with the SpotShotter ground-based acoustic gunfire detection system, for a four-month assessment by USAF security forces that could lead to deployment.

A commercial system used by police to detect and locate gunfire in cities, SpotShotter uses acoustic sensors to triangulate on gunshots. The wireless sensors can be worn by soldiers, attached to vehicles or fixed on buildings. Gunshot co-ordinates are then sent to the UAV, cueing its electro-optical or infrared camera to look for the sniper.

The trial will assess the military utility of combining ground detection with aerial location of sniper fire, and follows a 2005 demonstration of the concept conducted by the USAF's UAV Battlelab.

Santa Clara, California-based SpotShotter says integration of ground-based sensors and a UAV-mounted camera "made it possible to visualise the shooter's location within seconds".

Source: Flight International