The U.S. Army installed its first Ground-Based Sense-and-Avoid radar system today, here, which is home to two MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft system companies
Fort Hood is one of five installations that have been identified to acquire the system.
“We are very excited to finally see this come to fruition,” said Viva Kelley, product director for U.S. Army Unmanned Aircraft Systems Airspace Integration Concepts. “The whole team has been working very hard on this program since its inception. In the end, it will provide the Army with a safer and more effective way with which to conduct UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) training and testing.”
Currently, the Army uses visual observers, on the ground or in a chase plane, to provide the necessary “see-and-avoid” function required by federal regulation (14 CFR 91.113). The Army-developed Ground-Based Sense-and-Avoid, or GBSAA, will initially support UAS transiting from airfields to restricted areas where training and testing can occur.
The radar system consists of numerous complex subsystems, including multiple 3-D radar, known as LSTAR, data fusion, tracker, classifier, separation algorithms, displays and much more, that have been designed and developed for the sole function of sense and avoid.
Without a pilot on board, UAS do not have the ability to safely navigate in airspace with other traffic, officials said, adding especially with aircraft that are not transponding or otherwise cooperating in the airspace system.
The GBSAA system was designed to be compatible with any UAS, in any airspace and under any operational need. The goal is to open up necessary airspace to UAS and allow them to fly as safely as manned aircraft can. While the first steps will be transits from airfields to restricted areas, operations in military operating areas are in the very near future.
“The GBSAA system has exceeded all of its performance requirements, from the test bed to the full system concept demonstrations and follow-on testing,” said Col. Courtney Cote, project manager for UAS. “This system provides the alternate means of compliance with FAA regulatory requirements that will enable our Army to perform the critical mission training they need.”
Fort Hood is the first site to receive the system and will have hardware installed in mid-December. The hardware will continue to collect data for a safety analysis and report before becoming fully operational, in 2015. Collecting and analyzing the data will allow operators to see and verify if the radar is seeing everything and give the safety team a good understanding of the airspace traffic.