New Surveillance Capability

A New Surveillance Capability Being Introduced into the Afghanistan AOR

01/19/2011 – War fighters in Afghanistan will get an unprecedented capability to track and monitor activity on the ground in the coming months with the initial deployment of a new ultra-high-resolution camera able to scan a wide field of view and download images in real time. The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, the Defense Department’s high-tech research and development arm, is working with the Army to deploy its new Autonomous Real-time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance-Imaging System program during the first half of 2011, program manager Brian Leininger told American Forces Press Service.

Credit; Office of the Secretary of Defense, Public Affairs, 12/16/10

The ARGUS-IS system, with an acronym that recalls the 100-eyed Greek mythological figure, will give ground troops a persistent “eyes in the sky” capability that improves their ability to identify and track targets of interest and enemy operatives. The heart of the system is a 1.8-gigapixel color camera, the largest video sensor ever used to conduct tactical missions.

To provide a sense of just how high-resolution this sensor is, Leininger compared it to a standard cell phone camera. A cell phone image typically runs between 1 million and 2 million pixels. With ARGUS-IS, it’s 900 to 1,800 times that number –- enough to track people and vehicles from altitudes above 20,000 feet. But ARGUS-IS offers more than just high-resolution imagery. To be deployed on an A-160 “Hummingbird” unmanned aerial platform, it will be able to scan almost 25 square miles. This represents a big technological leap over current airborne surveillance systems, Leininger said.

Those that deliver high-resolution images are limited to very small fields of view, he explained, and those covering broader areas provide low-resolution imagery. In addition, ARGUS-IS operators on the ground can designate “windows” around up to 65 specific sites or targets they want to monitor. They can choose buildings, road intersections or other fixed locations the system will “stare” at, or people or vehicles to trail –- even if they’re moving in different directions…..

  • The two photos show the results of using the system. The Autonomous Real-time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance-Imaging System demonstrates is surveillance capabilities during a November 2009 test at Quantico, Va.

Story by Donna Miles

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