NVESD Wins 2010 RDA Award for Airborne Wide Area Persistent Surveillance System (AWAPSS)
The US Army RDECOM CERDEC Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate received a 2010 Army Research and Development Award (RDA). Dr. Michael Groenert, Mr. Patrick Tapen and Mr. Matt Simone, Air Systems Division, won the RDA for their work on the Airborne Wide Area Persistent Surveillance System (AWAPSS).
AWAPSS is an airborne persistent surveillance system designed to provide the Army with next-generation high-resolution, electro-optic and infrared imaging situational awareness capabilities. It was developed to provide continuous day and nighttime wide-area motion imagery in accordance with the U. S. Army's 24-hour airborne imaging mission requirements. The AWAPSS collects simultaneous Infrared (IR) and visible images of an 8 km-diameter persistent circle with resolution and frame rate sufficient to detect and track moving vehicle targets. It is the first system of its kind that can perform the mission at night.
The overall AWAPSS system consists of three major subsystems: the Sensor System, the Data Acquisition and Storage System, and Operator's Station. The Sensor System includes dual Mid-Wave Infrared (MWIR) sensors and a Visible-Near Infrared (VNIR) sensor, each with a dedicated scanner mirror. The MWIR sensor consists of two long linear arrays which each form an image by scanning across the area of interest in a direction perpendicular to the linear array.
In order to address the 24-hour wide area persistent imaging capability gap, NVESD developed a design requirement for a prototype airborne sensor system that can be operated both day and night. With support from JIEDDO and Army Project Manager, Aerial Common Sensors (PM ACS), NVESD conducted a rapid solicitation and selection process to find a practical hardware solution for the required sensor capabilities. By leveraging proven flight-qualified IR focal plane technologies and compact EO cameras, an AWAPSS sensor design was selected that could be delivered within 18 months of program start. Operationally, the AWAPSS system is intended to be operated from an aircraft which flies a circular orbit around the area of interest. The operator defines the geopoint located at the center of the imaging area, and the AWAPSS system continuously records imagery of the area around the selected geopoint. It automatically adjusts for variations in the aircraft position or speed to maintain the imaging around the selected point without operator interaction. The AWAPSS system was designed to fly at 17,000 feet while continuously covering an 8 km-diameter circle.
"The AWAPSS team couldn't have successfully delivered this sensor system so quickly without the support of the NVESD flight test branch at Davison AAF and the local contractor team that supported our program. We were proud of the contribution that the AWAPSS system made to the JFCOM Empire Challenge exercise this summer, and we hope that AWAPSS will make an even greater contribution in support of our Soldiers when it begins operations in theater shortly," says Dr. Groenert, Persistent Surveillance SME.
The first AWAPPS was delivered to NVESD in July 2009 and has participated in ATEC testing. It is currently being transitioned to an operational platform and will be the first nighttime tactical wide area persistent imaging system deployed by the Army.