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Air Force awards special operations military sensor deal

A drone-mounted, pint-sized weather sensor used by Special Forces to provide deep battlespace weather reconnaissance and intelligence will reach full development and deployment under a recently awarded Air Force contract.

 Physical Optics Corp. (POC) has won a not-to-exceed $24.5 million indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract to finalize development and procure Micro Weather Sensors (MWS) and Advanced Micro Weather Sensors.

 The MWS weighs less than a pound and is smaller than a football, but twenty-two sensors deliver continuous, real-time weather data — dew point, pressure altitude, barometric pressure, and several other metrics. LIDAR measures cloud height protection; the camera provides 360-degree images. Iridium satellites will funnel this information to a specific command and control center on the ground.

Able to withstand whatever weather situation it is deployed, the MWS can be hand placed or air dropped. It can also mount onto a micro unmanned air vehicle. Optimizing the portability expands the technology’s potential uses, from air and parachute operations to charting wildfires or disasters.

This award is the follow-on of a previous Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Requirement acquisition. And according to SBIR data, the original request for proposal originated from the Air Force Special Operations Command with planned deployment alongside Special Operations Commands across the military.

 The Air Force will obligate $4,872,014 in fiscal 2017 research, development, test, and evaluation funds for the first delivery order at the time of award. The contract stipulates that POC will provide non-recurring engineering, production readiness and two Micro Weather Sensor test units and two Advanced Micro Weather Sensors. Work will be performed in Torrance, California, and is expected to be complete by Nov. 2021. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center in Dayton, Ohio, is the contracting activity.

About the Author

Tim Broderick is a freelance writer for Defense Systems.

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