Concepts & Programs HomeProgramsFocus Area 4: Modernization & TechnologyPart 2: Information OperationsPart 2.2 ISRUAS Sensor Payload
UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS (UAS) SENSOR PAYLOAD

Description

The UAS Sensor Payload program design came from post deployment After Action Reports (AARs), war gaming, and multiple Universal Needs Statements (UNS) identifying the need to expand and improve intelligence sensor capabilities. Program efforts seek to capitalize on developing technologies to reduce size, weight, and power while addressing emerging processing and data management challenges. Development of these payloads give deployed units modular, tailored, and mission specific capabilities that have normally be limited to larger unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) theater assets. The program enhances the Marine Air Ground Task Force’s (MAGTFs) capability to conduct organic airborne intelligence collections with the RQ-21 Group 3 sensor payloads supporting Marine Expeditionary Units (MEU), Marine Special Operations, Infantry Regiments, and Battalion operations. Group 1 payload systems for the RQ-20 supports battalion and lower echelon operations, including intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance operations, and C4.

The current research, development, and procurement of the family of UAS sensor payloads include:

• Tactical Electro-optical/Infrared (EO/IR) SIGINT Integrated for Targeting (TEISIT) sensor payload is a Group 3 payload that is part of the Wide Area Surveillance and Persistent Surveillance (WASPS) program. The payload includes Signals Intelligence/ Electronic Support (SIGINT/ES), Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), and EO/IR modalities. The sensor will also incorporate advanced processing algorithms to perform on-board data fusion, exploitation, and an autonomous sensor control modality.

• Tactical Nighttime Wide Area Surveillance (TNWAS) is a Group 3 payload that provides a tactical nighttime wide area field-of-view (FOV) area surveillance capability. Onboard processing supports geo-registration, rendering, production of video chips, and detection of ground moving targets.

• Spectral and Reconnaissance Imagery for Tactical Exploitation (SPRITE) is a Group 3 payload that provides a wide-area intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability with simultaneous high spatial and spectral resolution. The system is capable of a wide area EO/IR and a Hyperspectral Imaging (HSI) capability with a variety of missions including support to counter improvised explosive device and counter tunneling missions.

• AN/PDY-2 Split Aces is a Group 3 sensor payload providing a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI) data. SAR can provide support to near real time change detection and collection of imagery at night or during inclement weather, while GMTI provides the capability for detection and tracking of ground moving targets.

• AN/DSY-4 Spectral Bat is a Group 3 sensor payload that provides a SIGINT/ES capability including signals detection and geo-location; the payload also includes a communications relay. These payloads complement the UAS’s organic EO/IR FMV capability.

• Silent Echo is a Group 1 sensor payload providing a SIGINT/ES capability including signals detection and geo-location; the payload also includes a communications relay. These payloads complement the UAS’s organic EO/IR FMV capability.

Operational Impact

The employment of these multi-intelligence payloads provides mission tailorable EO/IR, FMV, HSI, SIGINT/ES, GMTI and communications relay capabilities aboard the MAGTF’s organic UAS assets that were historically only available on theater ISR assets. These payloads substantially expand the MAGTF’s tactical ISR coverage, operational flexibility, and mission support capabilities including, fires integration, long distance communications, force-protection, and battlefield awareness.

Program Status

The Tactical Electro-optical/Infrared (EO/ IR) SIGINT Integrated for Targeting (TEISIT) program is a 6-year research & development (R&D) technology program. Fielding begins in 3rd quarter, FY20. The Tactical Nighttime Wide Area Surveillance (TNWAS) program is a R&D technology program. Fielding begins in 3rd quarter, FY21. Spectral and Reconnaissance Imagery for Tactical Exploitation (SPRITE) will conduct an air-ground demo in 3rd quarter, FY18. A Science and Technology (S&T) transition is expected in 2nd quarter FY19. The Split Aces payload program will begin procurement and delivery during the 3rd quarter, FY19. The Spectral Bat program is currently undergoing contractor testing of a Version 4 payload and is scheduled to begin fielding in 4th quarter, FY18. Currently, five (5) Version 3 systems are fielded. The Silent Echo program will begin fielding in FY18.

Procurement Profile:

Quantity:  FY18  FY19 
 TESIT      0  0
 TNWAS  0  0
 SPRITE  0  0
 Split Aces  6  5
 Spectral Bat  8  3
 Silent Echo  23  27

 

Developer/Manufacturer:

TESIT
Space Dynamics Laboratory
North Logan, UT

TNWAS
Office of Naval Research

SPRITE
UTC Aerospace Systems,
Arlington, VA