Advanced UAV Sensors to Help During Natural Disasters

Advanced UAV Sensors to Help During Natural Disasters

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An advanced UAV reconnaissance system was successfully tested, and will soon serve the U.S. Air National Guard in conducting airborne assessment of natural disasters across wider areas and greater distances than ever before.

The imagery the system provides will enable the timely assessment of critical infrastructure such as power plants, energy corridors, roads and highways, and civilian domiciles. Collecting this information rapidly across wide areas and disseminating the data directly to incident commanders will help save lives and property during natural disasters and emergency situations.

UTC Aerospace Systems (a unit of United Technologies Corp.) has successfully completed an Operational Assessment of its DB-110 airborne reconnaissance system on the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper UAV.

The system is currently in service with 14 countries around the world for military intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. It is a dual-band electro-optic and infrared reconnaissance pod that produces high-resolution day and night imagery, from overhead and at long ranges. Operating in three fields of view and capable of collecting still imagery, it provides three-dimensional and stereo imagery, and wide-area persistence surveillance, according to the statement on UTC website.

The DB-110 offers a significant capability improvement relative to the Guard’s existing sensors that have a comparatively shorter range and smaller field of view. For example, while current systems have a slant range of roughly 15 nautical miles, the DB-110 is able to produce high-resolution imagery from a slant range of 80-plus nautical miles.

In addition, the DB-110 provides an overhead view from higher altitudes and can collect more than 10,000 square miles of imagery per hour. Ultimately, this significantly enhanced capability will allow the Guard to assess natural disasters more rapidly and more comprehensively, boosting operational efficiency in its humanitarian assistance operations. Commanders anticipate using the sensor during such natural disasters as hurricanes, wildfires and floods.

Following the first Operational Assessment, the Guard is evaluating long-term solutions to field the next-generation sensor of the DB-110 family, the MS-110, in a new pod that will be compatible with both the MQ-9 Reaper and C-130 Hercules. The MS-110 will produce multispectral color imagery across 7 bands, thereby enhancing the long-range and wide-area attributes of the DB-110. For the Guard, the MS-110 would enhance the service’s ability to assess critical infrastructure during poor weather conditions, through smoke and below the surface of the water, while also helping to detect objects against a cluttered background.