The latest generation of the “Gorgon Stare” wide-area surveillance system has reached initial operational capability (IOC) in Afghanistan, lead contractor Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) announced on July 1. Fitted to a General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft, the system is providing the U.S. Air Force’s only operational capability for day/night persistent wide-area motion imagery, the company said.
The U.S. military developed Gorgon Stare as a quick reaction capability to provide persistent surveillance of city-sized areas. The Air Force has flown it on daily sorties in Afghanistan since March 2011, providing more than 10,000 hours of combat support, according to SNC.
Earlier this year, the service deployed in theater the Increment 2 system, which has now achieved IOC. The latest version of the system provides a four-fold increase in area coverage with a two-fold improvement in resolution compared to its predecessor, said SNC, of Sparks, Nev. It consists of two sensor turrets—an electro-optical (EO) sensor derived from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s ARGUS (Autonomous Real-Time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imaging System) technology and manufactured by BAE Systems; and an infrared sensor “integrating the largest IR arrays available,” supplied by Exelis.
“The Increment 2 system will make a significant contribution to preserving the lives of our deployed troops. I can think of no higher calling,” said Dave Bullock, SNC vice president for persistent surveillance systems.