Army braces for aerial intel surge in Afghanistan

The Army must figure out new and efficient ways to process data gathered from unmanned aerial vehicle sensors (UAV) and cameras as it begins operations in Afghanistan with its first medium-altitude, long endurance MQ-1C Gray Eagle and also its first full-spectrum combat aviation brigade that includes two Shadow UAS units with manned OH-58D Kiowa Warrior and AH-64D Apache helicopters, reports Defense Technology International.

The introduction of the Gray Eagles as part of a combat aviation brigade means that Army personnel in those units will be faced with the challenges of processing, exploiting and disseminating greater quantities of information gathered on flights of longer duration than Army personnel in Afghanistan have previously done with short duration, hand-launched UAS, such as the RQ-11B Raven or the tactical RQ-7B Shadow, the story said.

U.K. troops grappling with the same issues already have fielded to Afghanistan a system known as DataMan that allows networked users to feed various forms of data, human intelligence, UAV video and signals intelligence, to a central command-and-control server that tags the data against the geographical location to which it is related, the story said.

It is likely that the Army will attempt to solve the challenge of an exponential increase in data analysis from longer UAV flights and from the deployment of multispectral and wide-area sensors through the use of automated software that employs machine-based algorithms to detect abnormal activity that signals threats to warfighters, the story said.

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