All Eyes on Gorgon Stare

Despite the desire to get Gorgon Stare sensor pods to Afghanistan to support combat operations there, Air Force officials said they won’t deploy them until they have ironed the bugs out of this sophisticated airborne surveillance system. “This is a very advanced technology the Air Force is developing rapidly to meet warfighter requirements,” USAF spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Johnson told the Daily Report Tuesday. He added, “Gorgon Stare will not be fielded until the theater commander accepts it.” Johnson’s comments came in the wake of news coming to light on Monday that Air Force operational testers found Gorgon Stare to be “not operationally effective and not operationally suitable,” during extensive trials last fall at Eglin AFB, Fla. Among the shortcomings, Gorgon Stare’s electro-optical and infrared cameras “had trouble tracking humans during the day and larger objects, such as vehicles, at night,” reports the Los Angeles Times, citing a leaked memo from Eglin’s 53rd Wing, dated Dec. 30 and marked “draft/predecisional.” As a result, the testers opposed fielding Gorgon Stare until USAF and industry officials resolved the issues. Johnson explained that the leaked memo was later revised in January to reflect that program officials have identified several fixes that are now in place. MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft will carry Gorgon Stare. Fitted to a single MQ-9, one Gorgon Stare pod set will be able to provide persistent surveillance over a city-size area. (USAF’s full statement) (See also DOD Buzz report and Washington Post report)