Arete to support multispectral UAV sensor payloads that find hidden mines on invasion beaches
PANAMA CITY, Fla. – Electro-optics experts at Arete Associates in Tucson, Ariz., are increasing their support of a project to design multispectral UAV sensor payloads to help military unmanned helicopters detect and pinpoint mines and obstacles in beach surf zones to help keep Marines safe during amphibious attacks.
Officials of the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division in Panama City, Fla., announced a $7.5 million contract modification to Arete last week to support AN/DVS-1 Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA) block 1 system for the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) mine-countermeasures mission.
Carried on the Navy Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter, the sensor system has limited detection capability in the surf zone. The COBRA system enables operators and personnel to remain at safe distances from mines and other obstacles. COBRA will deploy from the littoral combat ship and is an integral part of the ship's mine countermeasures mission package.
This order is to provide COBRA program systems support for the AN/DVS-1 COBRA Block 1 system and support equipment. Eventually the COBRA system also will go aboard the larger and longer-range MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter.
COBRA uses multispectral sensors to conduct unmanned aerial tactical reconnaissance to detect and localize mine fields and obstacles in the surf zone and beach zone prior to amphibious assault.
Arête Associates first won a contract in March 2011 to build three COBRA Block 1 low-rate initial production systems as part of a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase III award.
COBRA Block I, tested and validated in 2010, is a passive system with capabilities of daytime surface-laid mine line and obstacle detection in the beach zone, limited detection capability in surf zone, and off-board processing.
The program's Block II will add nighttime minefield and obstacle detection capability and full detection capability in the surf zone. Block III will add buried mine line detection capability and near real-time onboard processing.
The BAE Systems Spectral Solutions segment in Honolulu is developing a prototype laser-based mine- and obstacle-detection system capability for nighttime minefield and obstacle detection as part of the COBRA Block II program.
The COBRA payload includes a stabilized step stare digital gimbal, high-resolution multispectral imaging digital camera with spinning six-color filter wheel, a processing unit, and a solid-state data storage unit.
The gimbal is about 19 inches long and 11 inches in diameter, and collects six different color-band images across a large area using a step-stare pattern. At the mission, personnel load its data storage unit into a post mission analysis station.
The COBRA Block I system has two airborne payloads, the post mission analysis station, and the tactical control system segment for the UAV ground control station to plan the flight tracks for the COBRA mission, monitor the mission, and reprogram the flight path if necessary.
COBRA began as a U.S. Marine Corps advanced technology program in the 1990s. The system uses incremental development, with three initial blocks of development planned with each introducing new or enhanced capabilities. COBRA Blocks II and III are in concept refinement and technology development.
On this order Arete Associates will do the work in Tucson, Ariz., and should be finished by December 2018. For more information contact Arete Associates online at http://arete.com, or the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division at www.navsea.navy.mil/Home/Warfare-Centers/NSWC-Panama-City.
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