The Army is looking to award another three-year contract to keep the Vehicle and Dismount Exploitation Radar (VADER) system, first tested in 2009, up and running.
VADER is capable of tracking individuals from 25,000 feet automatically and is just one of many quite incredible drone sensor systems like ARGUS, capable of capturing 36 square miles in a single image, or drone-based facial recognition and biometrics systems.
Indeed, drone technology is rapidly advancing with everything from ground-based lasers enabling perpetual flight to solar-powered drones to silent drones to drone-launched EMP missiles to fully automated weapons systems (which some groups are already speaking out against) to tiny laser-guided bombs for small drones and more.
While some might think these developments are not concerning since they are supposedly to be used in a warzone environment, such claims are nonsensical since the military is using drones in the United States already, as you will see in the below video:
In the Army’s recently published solicitation, it is revealed that they are looking for industry sources capable of providing “depot-level repair, sustainment, logistic/configuration management, engineering support, and acquisition of payloads and spares.”
The VADER system itself is composed of multiple components, “the VADER Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)/Dismount Moving Target Indicator (DMTI)/Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI) Radar and the VADER Exploitation Ground Station (VEGS) hardware/software components.”
“Originally developed by the Pentagon’s blue-sky researchers at DARPA and built by Northrop Grumman, Vader was designed to spot and track people using two sensors working in combination, mounted to a Grey Eagle drone or manned aircraft, while operating up to an altitude of 25,000 feet and for hours at a time,” according to Danger Room.
VADER’s system tracks the target using a “ground moving target indicator” sensor which identifies moving objects and feeds the data into a digital map.
“Next, the system cues a synthetic aperture radar to focus in and take high-resolution photographs,” Danger Room states. “The operators sitting back at Vader’s ground control station get a stream of both still images and a moving, almost real-time map of what’s shuffling around underneath. (It beats tracking people manually.)”
According to W. Richards Thissel, a science and technology adviser at the Defense Department’s Joint IED Defeat Organization, the VADER sensors use an onboard processor to analyze data using “exploitation algorithms” in order to “detect, discriminate, and track vehicular and dismounted suspicious activity in near-real time.”
“In general, ground moving target indicators work by detecting the Doppler shift that moving objects produce in radar return signals,” according to William Welsh of Defense Systems.
“The VADER system is contained in a pod about the size of a Hellfire missile,” Welsh added. “DOD intends to deploy VADER on manned and unmanned platforms in the next several years for operational testing.”