Extending the View

The Air Force is interested in adding a wide-area surveillance sensor to its Predator unmanned aerial vehicles and is pursuing the capability under a nascent Air Force Research Lab initiative, according to a senior USAF official. Martha Evans, director for information dominance programs in the Air Force’s acquisition shop, said the lab’s work under the Wide Area Airborne Surveillance program will build upon a sensor design already begin tested on Army and Marine Corps manned aircraft. “We want to do more work on this and give it more capability, because [wide area surveillance] is a mission that’s well suited for an unmanned vehicle,” she told reporters on Jan. 29 (see above). Choosing a contractor for the project is still at least a year off, Evans said, but the work definitely has promise. The WAS system would provide coverage much greater than what is currently possible with the Predator’s sensors, which are more narrowly focused, she said. Indeed several Predators equipped with the new technology could provide coverage over a small city—as opposed to just one or two city blocks at time.