F-16 Fighting Falcon News

Advanced Airborne Reconnaissance System sucessfully tested on the F-16

September 14, 2003 (by Lieven Dewitte) - BAE systems successfully demonstrated its Advanced Airborne Reconnaissance System (AARS) during August flight trials at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. AARS was flown on a U.S. Air Force F-16 block 50 fighter aircraft at altitudes up to 50,000 feet.

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AARS is a complete near-real-time reconnaissance system that includes airborne image acquisition and solid-state storage, data linking, ground exploitation, moving target indication, and intelligence dissemination capabilities.

The system can be deployed on a variety of military aircraft. AARS features multiple fields-of-view in a single sensor - the largest with a 120-inch focal length. The system provides either individual or simultaneous visible and infrared imaging, as well as manual or autonomous operation.

During the flight trials at Eglin, AARS captured images of tri-bar resolution targets, military vehicles and geographical targets from standoff ranges greater than 25 miles. Tri-bar resolution is a type of spatial resolution measurement that enables the pilot to determine scale and calculate the distance between objects on the ground. Future flight tests will demonstrate the system's imaging capabilities to capture imagery at supersonic speeds with a standoff range up to 100 miles.

The latest flight test aboard the F-16 validated the effectiveness of several key new technologies incorporated into the airborne sensor - including fiber-optic gyroscopes and digital servo-controllers that provide precise pointing and geo-positioning accuracy.