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L-3 Communications Aeromet

L-3 Communications Corporate




Optical Programs
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.

ABS Program
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 engineering units.

Deliver 100s of GB of EO-IR and metric data each deployment.

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) for airworthiness.

Provide best value solutions to demanding customer requirements in the most cost effective manner practicable.

Execute contract through an Integrated Management System using tailored earned value management system/EIS-748 principals.

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 challenging problems.

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 platforms.

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 aircraft.

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 users.

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 system.

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 users.

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.

Aeronautical Programs
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 needs.

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.



Last Updated 2/26/14