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  • L-3 Building Its Private ISR Force: Constant Hawk Afghanistan
    Posted by Amy Butler 3:17 PM on Oct 07, 2009

    Having won a competition to provide Constant Hawk intelligence aircraft, collection and analysis for the U.S. Army, L-3 Communications is planning first flight for the aircraft in January 2010, says Amela Wilson, the company's Army ISR programs director.

    The small fleet will consist of four aircraft, three set to deploy next year to Afghanistan and one for use stateside for training and testing of potential upgrades.

    This program -- as well as Constant Hawk Iraq -- is notable because it uses a contractor owned, contractor operated model. L-3 communications has procured four KingAir 350s and they are now being modified with 96 megapixel cameras that will be used for forensic intelligence in Afghanistan.

    The company will employ the pilots, maintainers, intelligence analysis and support officials. And, it will own the hardware and ground station. What L-3 delivers to the Army is a full intelligence product, Wilson says.

    The conops for Constant Hawk calls for the camera to survey an area; once an event occurs (typically an improvised explosive device explosion) the data is downloaded. Analysts then find the event in the footage and backtrack, tracing insurgents that may have deployed the IED and, if possible, following them backwards to their points of origin -- thus the term "forensics."

    The contract, worth roughly $99 million for development and the first deployment year, began in Feb. 2009. L-3 expects to deploy the first aircraft within 18 months of the contract's initiation, Wilson says.

    Jorge Scientific Corp. is prime on Constant Hawk Iraq, which uses a similar contractor-owned, contractor-operated model.

    Tags: ausa09 ar99 ISR Army L3

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