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STI'S Airship Demonstrates Successful Homeland Security Surveillance & Detection Exercises Using STI's World-Renown Anti-Submarine Warfare Technology.

Business Editors/Government & Defense Writers


Science & Technology International(R), STI, is pleased to announce it has successfully completed numerous target detection exercises demonstrating STI's sensor integration capabilities and the ability to use an airship (blimp) for homeland security surveillance operations. STI is the only company in the nation with a U.S. Department of Defense contract to provide sensor integration on airships.

The demonstrations include flying the airship, outfitted with STI's proprietary LASH (Littoral Airborne Sensor Hyperspectral) system, over various target-training sites along the Patuxent River. The objects of detection have included simulated mines in the Patuxent River, and simulated terrorist campsites. Life preservers also are being detected to demonstrate search-and-rescue capabilities. STI's LASH Airship Program is a component of STI's LASH Program, which is sponsored by the Office of Naval Research.

STI's Airship flew at an altitude of about 1500 feet over the target-training area located about two miles north-west from the Naval Air Station. STI's LASH system is a state-of-the-art camera system capable of detecting objects submerged in the water at tactical depths and objects invisible to the naked eye. The sophisticated but user-friendly optical imaging system is mounted in the gondola of the airship, with its lens peeking out from a space on the floor of the gondola and angled down. The LASH system also has a laptop computer positioned inside of the airship where a STI technician collects the data. Although the crew in the airship can not see the objects being searched, the detections appear on the screen of the laptop in real-time. Aviation Week & Space Technology characterized STI's LASH system as "perhaps being the farthest advanced hyperspectral imaging system worldwide." STI's LASH system is certified on military SH60 helicopters and P3 aircraft.

"We received FAA certification on the airship and are pleased with the unique benefits an airship can provide for our test-operations as well as the military's exercises," said STI's President and CEO Nick Susner. "The airship has the potential to be a 'Command Center' in the sky during a national crisis, natural disaster or various emergencies. It can stay airborne for a few days and it's cost effective primarily due to using less fuel."

"We are demonstrating STI's ability to perform sensor integration on the airship," explained STI's LASH Programs Director Tom Glover. "Multiple camera systems and radar systems on the airship makes the airship a powerful tool that can be used in various ways -- protect the environment, law enforcement, ISR (intelligence, surveillance & reconnaissance) operations, search & rescue, and much more."

"I am excited about the success of the airship and its performance. Without STI's foresight, none of these demonstrations would have been possible," said Steve Huett, NAVAIR Program Manager, who directly oversees STI's LASH Program under the office of Naval Research.

Huett spearheaded the effort to use the airship to help find the Washington, D.C. area snipers. STI, the Office of Naval Research including the Naval Research Lab plus a handful of others stepped forward to outfit STI's airship with multiple systems to help locate the shooters.

"We outfitted the airship with a Wescam MX20, a sniper-detection system provided by the Naval Research Lab (NRL), known as VIPER, and a military radio to provide communications with multiple agencies plus an on-board navigational system to provide situational awareness," explained Huett.

Although the sniper suspects were arrested as the airship was just finished being retrofitted, Huett says it demonstrated how quickly the systems could be installed and certified by the Federal Aviation Administration to be used on an airship. "If necessary, to find the snipers, we had the ability to read street signs and license plates from several miles away."

"STI's Airship is proving to be a viable platform for homeland security, harbor patrol and disaster mitigation," said Susner. "We have just begun to demonstrate its usefulness and I am very proud of the hard work of our team, and the support and cooperation from the Naval Air Station."

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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Nov 20, 2002
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