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Silent guard on duty.


Situational awareness currently is one of the defence world's buzzwords. It depicts the knowledge of the surrounding scenario as well as that of the enemy's potential movements and intentions, and can be applied to all manner of arenas and platforms. Considering land warfare alone, the ability to obtain round-the-clock surveillance of the area of operation (detecting, classifying and reporting possible targets) with the minimum use of manpower definitely ranks high in a commander's wish list.

Conventional area protection methods have been hit by the general ban on anti-personnel mines, which were a very effective means of protecting one's area of operations, ranging from simple bivouacs to huge facilities. Technological breakthroughs in electronics allowed the development of new, affordable miniaturised sensors, while networking and sensor fusion techniques now provide a command post with a comprehensive view of what is happening in the surrounding area.

The US Army's decision to accelerate the first Future Combat System spin-out phase that includes the UGS (Unattended Ground Surveillance) element provides good evidence of the momentum such systems are gaining. The leading company for the FCS-UGS is Textron Defense Systems, which developed two suites of sensors: one aimed at open spaces, the second for the urban environment. The Tactical-Unattended Ground Sensor (T-UGS) was designed for remote tactical operations in open spaces and can be placed by hand or remotely. The system consists of four main subsystems; the Gateway Node being the element that provides radio communication and integration into the FCS network. Three different sets of sensors are available. The T-UGS Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) node is a modular subsystem that can host seismic, acoustic and magnetic sensors; this is used to track vehicles and personnel and provides target classification and bearing. The data provided by ISR nodes and relayed through the Gateway nodes increases location accuracy. If more precise identification is needed, the system will ask through the net to one or more Electro-Optical/Infrared Nodes to provide pictures of the threat, as these sensors are mounted on panning heads.

Textron is also developing the Advanced Air Delivered Sensor (AADS) for the US Marine Corps. Upon ejection it deploys fins to provide flight stabilisation and to ensure that the sensor will remain 'head up' when the penetrator-like system hits the ground. The AADS consists of acoustic and seismic sensors, sensors-management software applications, a signal processor, two-way satcom, a storage device, GPS and battery. When a noise or vibration activates the system, signals are sent back to a workstation that receives and processes the information. The company won a development contract for the US Air Force's Advanced Remote Ground Unattended Sensor (Argus), which will feature similar characteristics.

Textron also proposes its Terrain Commander based on the Optical Acoustic Satcom Integrated Sensor (Oasis). This is a man-portable system with day/night electro-optic and acoustic sensors that can be complemented with a series of miniaturised seismic, magnetic, piezoelectric and passive infrared sensors. The acoustic detection range is to 500 metres for a light truck, 2500 metres for a tank and ten km for a helicopter, while electro-optical recognition range is to 150 metres for personnel and 500 for vehicles. Data is sent in near-real-time to the Command and Control Station by satellite comms. An improved version, known as Terrain Commander 2 is based on the miniaturised Oasis 2, which weighs only three kilos, plus 1.1 kg for the electro-optical head. A long-range version electro-optical sensor is available, providing recognition to 500 metres for personnel and 1500 for vehicles, while the Terrain Commander 2 allows a single operator to simultaneously monitor a large number of remote surveillance sites.



In the interim, the US Army's main unattended ground surveillance system is the Rembass-II, an acronym for the AN/GSR-8(V) Remotely Monitored Battlefield Sensor System-II developed by L-3 Communications which, within its Rem-Sense programme, is also the originator of the AN/PRS-9 Battlefield Anti-Intrusion System (Bais) and the AN/ GSQ-257 Unattended Ground Sensor Set, which is part of the US Marine Corps' Tactical Remote Sensor System.

The Rembass-II uses three basic sensor transducers, the Mk-2965/GSR seismic/ acoustic sensor (Sas), the Mk-2967/GSR infrared plug-in module (IPM) and the Mk-2966/GSR magnetic plug-in module (MPM). Weighing 1.2 kg, the Sas provides vehicle classification with acquisition ranges of up to 350 metres for tracked vehicles, 250 for wheeled vehicles and 75 for personnel. It is the basic sensor of the Rembass-II and the sole sensor for the Bais, and incorporates the communication system that sends out target data messages out to 15 km using VHF burst transmissions. The other two Rembass-II sensors are plugged into the Sas: both provide direction and target count and operate respectively on temperature differences and magnetic field changes. The IPM, with a weight of 0.66 kg, tracks vehicles up to a range of 50 metres and personnel out to 20. The MPM weighs 0.45 kg and detects tracked vehicles at 25 metres, wheeled vehicles at 15 and personnel at three. The RT-1175C/GSQ repeater radio extends the operating range by a further 15 km, but a UAV used as a relay can further its reach to 150 km (while a satcom relay, needless to say, irons out any communication problem at any distance).



The receiving end is the AN/PSQ-16 hand-held monitor (HHM), which provides the capability to monitor sensor transmissions with an LCD display or an optional laptop. Rembass-II operators use the Advanced Monitoring Display System (AMDS) to plan missions and locate sensors and activities on a graphical display. The system uses an open interface that can integrate new types of sensors, including CBRN, meteorological, RF and so forth, and the AMDS can control the AN/PPS5D ground surveillance radar.

Using the Rembass-II as a basis, L-3 Communications has embarked on the development of the Air Deliverable Remote Sensor System (ADRSS), the sensors of which could be deployed by rotary-wing or conventional drones, or even by high-speed aircraft. The Rembass-II is currently fielded by Stryker Brigade Combat Teams and Special Forces. A subset of the system is known as the Platoon Early Warning Device--also known as Bais--but includes only the Sas and the HHM. L-3 provides the Encoder Transmitter Unit II (ETU-II), the modernized seismic/acoustic Sensor replacement for the US Marine Corps' legacy ETU and ETU/SID, which is part of the AN/GSQ257 Unattended Ground Sensor set of the Tactical Remote Sensor Systems (TRSS). Fully interoperable with legacy and upgraded TRSS as well as with the Rembass-II, it provides Marine Corps ground sensor platoons with a flexible intrusion detection and surveillance capability.

Harris produces the RF-5400VH Falcon Watch system that can be used with the company's RF-5400VH-MS multi-sensor node or the RF-5400VH-SS single sensor node. The former can be linked to three sensors, one seismic and two passive infrared or magnetic; the latter, as its SS suffix implies, supports only one sensor at a time: either seismic, passive infrared or magnetic (they operate in the 138 to 174 MHz band).

Typical ranges of the 12047-371X seismic detector are 50 metres for vehicles and 15 metres for personnel; for the 12047-372X magnetic detector the figures are respectively 25 and three and 100 and 50 metres for the 12047-373X passive infrared (the long-range version of the latter doubles those figures). The system also includes the RF-5400VH-RU relay used to extend the communication range of the sensors; it operates in the same band and has a selectable output power between 1.5 and 5 W. The system weighs 1.9 kg with batteries for the -MS node, 0.36 kg for the -SS and one kilo for the relay. The sensors send an alert to handheld or manpack radios, or to a laptop computer loaded with the RF-5410 sensors management application and the RF-6910 C2PC-CNR situational awareness software. These applications provide a shared operational and tactical picture to all command levels using common mapping and military standard track-plot and land-force symbols.

A derivative of the Falcon Watch system, the Silent Watch, was developed for the US Central Command and is based on the RF-5405VH-GW intelligent gateway. It is fully interoperable with the Falcon Watch systems and operates seamlessly with Falcon II radios, providing wireless connectivity to a forward position and local patrols. Its infrared sensor remains in stand-by mode until cued by one of the intrusion detectors and subsequently tracks the target within its field of view. The best frame is then automatically cropped, compressed and sent to the user.


Lockheed Martin is developing the modular Surveillance Collection Observation Unit (Scout) system which includes acoustic, seismic and visual sensors, air-dropped and hand-emplaced, that provide real-time intelligence collection, detection and identification of an array of threats. The hand-emplaced system is a cognitive, non-line-of-sight, high-frequency datalink working in the 30 to 34 MHz band with a range of 20 km and a data rate of 22 kbps. It ensures two-way network communication between each sensor unit and a designated ground station. The acoustic sensor has a detection range of 50 to 350 metres while the visual sensor is based on a camera with a 360[degrees] horizontal and a 60[degrees] vertical field-of-view and an identification range of 400 metres in daytime and 250 metres at night.

Trident Systems Sentry nodes create an advanced ultra-wideband communication mesh with a standard data rate of 50 kbps and a maximum rate of 250 kbps. Its range is in excess of 300 metres. Each node is equipped with a GPS and four infrared motion sensors providing 360[degrees] coverage and can support low-resolution imagery as well as acoustic, seismic, magnetic sensor data. Numerous power sources are offered, amongst which are solar panels that provide 90 days persistence. Each node weighs 0.62 kg with four standard AA batteries, has a diameter of 76 mm and is 152 mm long. Developed in 2008, the recce ground sensor nodes are larger and are optimised for high-resolution imagery and low frame-rate video, with a data rate of 1 Mbps in low-power mode and 5 Mbps in standard mode. Another 2008 add-on is the Night-watch node with built-in GPS and infrared motion sensors, which is optimised for longer distances between nodes (up to two km). Tactical gateway relays and wireless bridges are available to provide a link with the operating base, while the Wireless Node Controller allows remote network configuration and control.


In March 2008 Northrop Grumman won a contract to provide additional Scorpion UGS systems (of which 600 have already been delivered) to the US Army Central Command. In total some 900 have been fielded. Two types of sensors are part of the package. The Combined Adaptive Sensor Transceiver includes seismic and magnetic sensors as well as a two-way line-of-sight transceiver. The sensors allow detection and classification of vehicles and personnel at ranges of 100 and 30 metres respectively. The radio component allows the linking of sensors to a communication gateway that can be positioned up to two km away. The latter provides encrypted long-haul communication even by satellite.


Selex Galileo offers the Hydra Networked Surveillance system based on a series of sensors housed in a rugged environmental enclosure that contains the sensor processing and communications electronics. Sensor nodes form a dynamic wide-area secure radio network, and inter-node ranges of up to 500 meters cover large areas with only a few nodes. The company offers a range of static or pan-tilt head-mounted cameras. Three infrared sensors are offered: a short-range wide angle, with a 30[degrees] field-of-view and vehicle and man detection range of 25 and 5 metres respectively, a medium-range offering 10[degrees], 60/40 metres and a long-range covering 4[degrees] and 200/100 metres.


Acoustic sensors, with an array of four microphones mounted at 90[degrees] from each other, can detect fixed and rotary-wing aircraft at three kilometres, tracked vehicles at one, heavy wheeled vehicles at 500 metres and light wheeled vehicles at 50 metres. Other sensors, such as RBCN, can be added to the suite.

Exensor of Sweden developed the Umra 1G, which consists of a field computer, a battery pack, an antenna and two sensor probes, each equipped with one acoustic, one seismic and three magnetic sensors. The system has a built-in long-range IP-based radio transmitting in the 138 to 144 MHz bandwidth with a line-of-sight range of 15 km. The data is sent to a base station where it is processed on a laptop computer running the Umrawin software, which can simultaneously monitor six Umras. The system provides signature comparison with the stored database, and saves unknown signatures. The standalone, monochrome Remote Snapshot Scout Camera can be used to provide snapshots of the target. It has a built-in short-range 868 to 870 MHz IP-based radio with a range of one kilometre. A passive infrared detector triggers the camera when the target is within its field of view (15[degrees] or 20[degrees] are available). A smaller version, the Umra Mini (see title photo), with only one geophone and one microphone, and a short range IP-radio similar to that of the Snapshot Scout Camera, is also available with a variety of sensors. Exensor systems are currently in use with German, Swedish, Finnish, British and French armed forces and US Special Forces.




Thales is developing the Spectre area control system that will be based on commercial and military off-the-shelf components (also see the cover photo of this issue, taken by the author of this article). No more details are available as contractual agreements with subcontractors are being finalized.

Gunshot Detection

Numerous gunshot detection systems have been developed, to be used both in dynamic and static positions. The latter type can be integrated in warning systems for force protection purposes. AAI provides its PDCue fixed site sensor in the form of a tripod-mounted tetrahedral array (also mountable on a structure). It can operate in stand-alone mode or as a daisy-chain along the base perimeter and provides an oral alert as well as shooter range, azimuth, elevation and location on a geographical user interface.

A similar system is the Boomerang from BBN Technologies, close to 1000 units of which are in Iraq and Afghanistan, both in mobile and static guises.

Metravib in France was one of the first companies to develop an effective gunshot detection system-the Pilar. The current Pilar Mk-IIw based on two microphones provides the shooter's position with accuracies of [+ or -] 2% in azimuth, [+ or -] 5% in elevation and [+ or -] 10 to 20% in range (up to 1500 metres) values. The Pivot (Pilar Versatile Observation Turret) surveillance camera can be added to the system. Australian Pacific Noise and Vibration (PNV) also provides acoustic gunshot detection sensors.

Find the Differences

An original optronic surveillance system was developed by Rheinmetall and Diehl BGT. Known as the First it is a 360[degrees] infrared surveillance scanner originally intended for air defence surveillance but now used in camp protection missions. Its sensor rotates at five rpm and creates a 360[degrees] picture, which is subdivided in four 90[degrees] sectors. Pixel comparison algorithms automatically warn when the scenario is modified by the appearance of a new item.

For area video surveillance Israel's Seraphim Optronika developed the Mini Unattended Ground Imager (Mugi), a rugged stand-alone system that transmits day/night images to a command post. It involves a daylight camera with a x12 zoom, providing a visual range of over 2.5 km on a moving person, and a thermal imager with a FoV of 7.3[degrees] x 5.5[degrees] allowing detection of a moving person at over 1.2 km. Video motion detection can be provided as an option. Two different types of power supply are provided, a 13.5-kg rechargeable battery pack for continuous nine to twelve days operation, and a 30-kg non-rechargeable pack operating for 50 to 80 days. In power-saving mode the system can remain operational up to two years. The built-in link has a transmission range of two to six km, however a repeater can increase this to 15 to 20 km. The Mugi is in service with special operation forces and police.
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Title Annotation:Technology
Author:Alpo, Paul V.
Publication:Armada International
Date:Apr 1, 2009
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