C4ISR

Combined sensor system detects, locates enemy fire at bases

Serenity Payload hostile fire sensors

Serenity sensor pods mounted on a Kestrel-stabilized frame.


In an effort to shore up protection around military bases, the Army has combined sensors into a visual and acoustic system for detecting enemy fire around military bases. In a joint effort, the Army Aviation Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) and the Army Research Lab have created the Serenity Payload system that detects enemy fire by equipping 360-degree surveillance coverage using the FireFly acoustic sensor. 

Developed by AMRDEC, FireFly is a sophisticated wireless sensor network platform capable of utility monitoring, surveillance, location tracking and voice communications. The FireFly acoustic sensor combines electro-optical cameras and AM/FM radio time synchronization pulses to identify, track and relay to operators the direction of hostile fire.

Though the FireFly sensor is coupled with the Serenity Payload system, it can also be deployed independently. And in addition to FireFly, the Serenity Payload system has been deployed aboard Lockheed Martin’s Persistent Threat Detection System, a blimp-like aerostat capable of providing ISR for extended periods of time, and a Containerized Weapon System, a mount-based system that can be easily deployed in multiple situations for returning enemy fire. Once alerted to enemy fire, the Serenity Payload system can autonomously direct both PTDS and CWS to a particular location for increased situational awareness and warfighter protection.

The Serenity Payload system has already seen deployments in Middle East locations where U.S. forces have been stationed. The FireFly sensor was initially developed in 2012 for soldiers in Afghanistan and can either be mounted on the backs of soldiers or mounted at a stationary location. In addition to small arms detection, the Serenity Payload is also equipped to detect mortar detonation and rocket fire that would be more likely to besiege a forward operating base. 

The Army has been developing and improving on the Serenity Payload system for 10 years.

About the Author

Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.

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