The Air Force's 'Liberty Ships'
During his July 22 confirmation hearing, prospective Air Force chief of staff Gen. Norton Schwartz spoke about how her would integrate Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) work with the Defense Department’s ISR task force and others, and increase the Air Force’s contribution to tasks like detecting improvised explosive devices. In addition to adding more UAVs to the Air Force’s fleet, he mentioned acquiring more “light manned ISR aircraft” through what he referred to as the “‘Liberty Ship’ construct.”
That term hasn’t been widely heard, as Aviation Week blogger Bill Sweetman points out. But the model — using commercial aircraft and modifying them to perform ISR missions — has already been a hit with the Army.
The Army has used light aircraft in combination with its Constant Hawk, an anti-IED and ambush detection system that compares photos of convoy routes and finds differences in them. The Army Materiel Command named Constant Hawk one of the 2006 Army’s Greatest Inventions.
Posted by Sean Gallagher on Jul 25, 2008 at 8:12 AM