Army researchers eye UAV payloads to detect poisonous chemical threats

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md., 17 Jan. 2006. U.S. Army leaders are launching the Military Applications in Reconnaissance and Surveillance (MARS) program, which seeks to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for rapidly detecting, assessing, and eliminating toxic industrial chemical threats.

Jan 17th, 2006

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md., 17 Jan. 2006. U.S. Army leaders are launching the Military Applications in Reconnaissance and Surveillance (MARS) program, which seeks to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for rapidly detecting, assessing, and eliminating toxic industrial chemical threats.

The MARS program, under supervision of scientists at the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center's Battlefield Management Team at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., is considered a first step to developing UAV sensor payloads to detect chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear (CBRN) threats.

Army officials say lessons learned from the last three U.S. overseas military combat operations in Iraq, Serbia, and Afghanistan, lead them to believe that improving U.S. CBRN sensing capabilities is necessary. Using UAVs to do this makes sense, they say.

No CBRN-specific UAV-based sensor packages have been used operationally. Experts from the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), meanwhile, have told the Army that mature technologies are available to fulfill portions of the aerial CBRN sensing mission.

In addition to the development operational procedures and tests, the MARS project will use existing, mature technology to provide a framework for integrating capable sensors into existing UAVs.

Although the UAV platform is unspecified for now, MARS seeks to use unmanned aircraft no larger than 10 inches long, six inches wide, and seven inches high, and that weigh less than 10 pounds. Power use must be no more than 60 watts at 28 volts DC. No other restrictions are involved.Sensors may be point or standoff.

Army officials are asking industry to submit proposals for the MARS program no later than 28 Feb. For more information contact contract specialist Stephen Skolnik by phone at 410-436-3955, by e-mail at stephen.skolnik@us.army.mil, or by post at RDECOM Acquisition Center - Edgewood, ATTN: AMSSB-ACC-E, 5183 Blackhawk Road, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., 21010-5424.

More information about the MARS program is online at http://www.fbodaily.com/archive/2006/01-January/15-Jan-2006/FBO-00966515.htm.

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