L-3 Aeromet is a premier developer, integrator and
operator of airborne EO InfraRed (IR) sensors systems.
We design, develop, and integrate custom EO-IR systems
into special mission aircraft. We also provide aircraft
modification and airborne mission support. L 3 Aeromet
airborne mission support covers all phases of support
to include planning, logistics, mission execution,
data collection, data production, and reports.
Our team of scientists, engineers, and technicians
work to develop cost effective solutions for very challenging
problems, including: target acquisition and tracking,
data collection during all phases of missile flight,
and data production.
L 3 Aeromet enjoys a unique and powerful advantage:
the people who build and maintain the sensor systems
work side-by-side with the mission operators and data
analysts. This enables real-time assessment of systems
by the entire team and continuous improvement.
The premier program within the Optical Programs business
area is the AirBorne Sensors (ABS) program. ABS operates
and maintains customer-owned airborne platforms, EO-IR
sensors, and provides operations and technical expertise
for missions supporting BMDS elements and technology
development programs under contract to MDA Deputy for
Test (DT) Directorate.
Key ABS Program activities are shown in table below.
ABS Program Activities
Provide “turnkey” solutions
for airborne EO-IR data collections in support
of MDA test requirements.
Provide fully trained pilots, flight
and mission crew personnel.
Execute airborne data collections.
Reduce complex EO-IR data reduced to calibrated
Deliver 100s of GB of EO-IR and metric data each
Maintain a responsive flexible, Quick Reaction
Capability for mission planning and execution.
Maintain high technical excellence
in area of airborne EO-IR sensor development and
aircraft systems integration.
Perform major and minor modifications
to business jet class aircraft conforming to an
acceptable technical rule (FAA, MILSTD, other)
Provide best value solutions to demanding
customer requirements in the most cost effective
Execute contract through an Integrated
Management System using tailored earned value management
Under the ABS program, L 3 Aeromet operates the High
Altitude Observatory (HALO) aircraft, currently implemented
on Gulfstream II & IIB aircraft. The HALO aircraft
are premier airborne data collection assets; designated
as HALO I, HALO II, and HALO III. The ABS program has
successfully participated in well over 180 optical
surveillance missions for the U.S. Department of Defense
supporting BMD technology development, National Missile
Defense (NMD), Theater Missile Defense (TMD) programs,
and Shuttle reentry observations.
HALO I is a flying laboratory that utilizes in-house
designed and built systems, commercial-off-the-shelf
(COTS) sensors, and sensors from National Laboratories
to meet mission objectives. With HALO I, we provide
a quick, effective response to rapidly changing and
HALO II, designed and built to capture data in the
most stressing phases of missile flight, is flying
a large 35 cm aperture open port EO IR sensor mounted
in a pod on top of the aircraft. The premier system
on HALO II is a very sensitive long-wave infrared capability.
Complementing the LWIR are very capable visible and
mid-wave infrared systems.
HALO III is currently undergoing modification to become
the Airborne Diagnostic Target (ADT). The HALO-III
will perform the ADT mission and have some of the capabilities
of HALO-I “flying laboratory.” The ADT
mission is diagnostic, used in the development of the
ABL aircraft. HALO III will be used “score” the
effectiveness of the overall ABL weapon system.
Airborne Infrared Surveillance (AIRS)
Since program inception, the AIRS team has been investigating
the utility of the HALO-II Sensor in operational scenarios.
The team has researched potential CONOP scenarios,
cross-decking the sensor to other airframes, closing
the fire control loop, algorithm development and implementation
including the autonomous acquisition and tracking,
object sighting messages, target state vector generation,
and communication systems. With access to the HALO-I
and HALO-II aircraft at L 3 Aeromet’s Tulsa headquarters,
the AIRS team has the resources required to extend
research models in the laboratory to ‘real-world’ proof-of-concept
CONOPS investigations revealed
scenarios that required different airframes. The team
investigated the feasibility of cross-decking the HALO-II
sensor to Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) (such as the
Northrop Grumman Global Hawk aircraft and General Atomics
Predator aircraft) and long endurance business class
Closing the fire control loop has been a significant
task. An effort is underway to develop algorithms and
exploit the HALO-II Sensor capabilities to acquire,
track, and communicate target sighting messages and
state vectors from the HALO-II aircraft to external
The AIRS team developed and installed the AIRS processor
equipment rack on HALO-II. The AIRS rack is used to
collect data and host the 2-D tracker and 3-D Target
State Estimator algorithms, as well as several feature
extraction algorithms. In addition, the team has integrated
guest algorithms for use on the AIRS real-time airborne
A dedicated 4-channel communication system was also
integrated into the AIRS rack on HALO-II. The communication
system is used to transmit and receive Object Sighting
Messages and Object State Estimates at the AIRS Ground
Station (AGS). The development of the Tulsa-based AGS
has enabled the AIRS team to support the fielded mission
aircraft in real-time. Target acquisition data is communicated
to the AGS that, in turn, uplinks the data to the HALO-II
aircraft. Object sighting messages and state vectors
are also sent from HALO-II through the AGS to external
Target acquisition has developed along two paths, autonomous
acquisition and the reception of an uplinked cue. The
autonomous Plume Acquisition and Tracking Sensor (PATS)
can detect boosting events at safe distances and provide
cueing information. Off-board cueing can be received
via the 4-channel communication system. Once a cue
is obtained from a source, the cue is sent to the HALO-II
Sensor for acquisition, tracking, and processing.
The AIRS team is now focused on system analysis required
to use the HALO-II sensor and AIRS processing on an
Unmanned Aerial System (UAS). Risk mitigation includes
more sophisticated feature extraction and discrimination
algorithms, dedicated real-time processors, communications
systems, and other efforts to enable a smooth transition
of the HALO-II Sensor to a UAS.
L 3 Aeromet offers a full-range of aircraft system
integration and modification capabilities specifically
tailored to special mission aircraft. Aeronautical
Programs builds on a long history of aircraft modification
and mission support through the utilization of a robust
collection of resident engineering design and science
resources to develop and integrate highly technical
aircraft mission system solutions. These capabilities
are essential to meet the rapidly evolving requirements
in OEM and government test programs. Our systems integration
approach provides a full-range of aircraft system integration
and modification capabilities for special mission aircraft.
Our customers demand and expect a rapid response from
us. We work closely with our customers to understand
their mission requirements clearly, and are dedicated
to finding optimum, cost-effective solutions to customer
L-3 Aeromet routinely participates
in the type of weapons systems research and development
that requires captive flight-testing. We are typically
involved throughout the captive flight testing process,
from engineering development, to aircraft modifications,
to flight and drop tests.