Notebook: Industry and Innovation
BY FRONTLINE STAFF
© 2013 FrontLine Defence (Vol 10, No 5)

Lockheed Martin Links Ground Sensor Network With Unmanned Aerial Vehicles For Enhanced Threat Protection
A wireless ground sensor network developed by Lockheed Martin will soon have the option of being fully integrated with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. The Self-Powered Ad hoc Network (SPAN), a wireless ground sensor system will be able to connect with unmanned vehicles to provide ubiquitous coverage and persistent surveillance of designated areas.

“SPAN is essentially a network of unobtrusive sensor nodes small enough to fit into the palm of your hand,” says Macy W. Summers, vice president with Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Solutions. “Linking SPAN sensors with UAVs provides a cost-effective solution that can support many types of missions including force protection, border surveillance and regulatory and treaty compliance.” SPAN is a multi-purpose wireless sensor platform that never needs a battery replacement. Using readily available energy sources in its surrounding environment, it re-charges itself, and its nodes only transmit when there is a sensor reading of concern.

Fusing SPAN with UAVs lowers the total cost of monitoring a specific area, since the networks automatically prompt UAV sensors without the need to depend on a separate operator alerting system. Each node transmits relevant data to the next node, and so on, until the information is ultimately forwarded to a wide area communications link. During a UAV mission, the ground network automatically prompts the UAV’s high precision sensors to further characterize the alert without the need for a remote analyst. This linked solution enables UAV operators to focus on identified threats instead of loitering in wait for potential threats. Additionally, this enhanced processing of timely intelligence enables responsive situational awareness for ground commanders in full spectrum and counter insurgency operations.

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Austrian Armed Forces Select Cassidian “Tracker” Mini Unmanned Air System
The Austrian Ministry of Defence has ordered six Tracker mini unmanned air systems (18 aircraft). After evaluating the mini-UAS operation in accordance with the Austrian Armed Forces capability development plan, a further procurement of mini-UAS is intended between 2016 and 2017.
This contract was won by Survey Copter, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cassidian SAS, responsible for the development and manufacturing of miniature aircraft and helicopter UAVs, in cooperation with the Kapsch Group, a Vienna-headquartered international road telematics, information technology and telecommunications company.

The Tracker can be deployed for detection, reconnaissance, identification, classification, tracking, over-the-hill targeting, target or axis designation, special force and anti-terrorism action, ­littoral and border patrol, force protection, convoy support, dismounted warfighter missions, and urban terrain operations. Using a pre-programmed and reconfigurable plan, it flies entirely automatically, enabling operators to focus on their reconnaissance assignment.

Composed of an aircraft and a ground station, the short-range mini-UAS Tracker is a hand-launched system, carried as a backpack. The ground station, consisting of two PCs and control units with joysticks, is coupled to a data link antenna tracking the aircraft in real-time.
Increasing situational awareness and reconnaissance capabilities, the Tracker features an advanced ergonomic man-machine interface, low-noise electric engines, and is optimized to provide stealthy intelligence-gathering capabilities for military, security and civil authorities. The system’s technical features include ­visible-light and infra-red high-resolution cameras integrated in a three-axis gyro-stabilized plug-and-play T120 turret specially developed by Survey Copter.

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