A company that provides domestic and international intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance services loaded a new sensor to a Cessna 337 just outside Fort Bragg, North Carolina, this month -- a product touted as “truly transformational technology.”
The sensor is the latest version of Redkite, a wide-area motion imagery system manufactured for rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft by Logos Technologies.
In its latest version, Redkite comes in under 35 pounds -- 5 pounds lighter than the one now available in the market -- and draws less than 200 watts of power.
Doug Rombough, chief executive officer of the Fairfax, Virginia-based company, told DefenseTech the new system is able to scan a city-wide area in near real-time while recording and storing the imagery for analysis.
“I like to call it Wide Google Earth with DVR-like functionality,” he said. The system can also link to other sensors, enabling an operator to queue a full-motion video with high-definition and high-resolution in order to zoom in close to anything of interest, he said.
Logos built the system so that it could be used across the broad range of aviation while making sure it met all ISR requirements. It was not specifically designed with the Defense Department in mind, he said, but the Pentagon has shown an interest in it.
“We wanted to make sure it was light enough and platform agnostic enough to where the commercial sector would be interested in it,” he said, “everything from a Cessna to law enforcement helicopters.”
Joe Fluet, chief executive officer for MAG Aviation, an ISR provider that owns the Cessna that currently putting the Redkite through its places in North Carolina, said, “Everybody’s talking about WAMI these days, and that’s for good reason.
“But even within the WAMI world, Redkite is an extraordinary sensor,” he said. Fluet called it a “truly transformational technology” that will give customers -- civilian or military -- “a capability many of them know they want and in many instances don’t even know is available yet.”
Rombough said software developed by the company will enable operators to set up “watch boxes” for particular areas. If movement is detected within a “box,” a window pops open immediately and activity within it is recorded separately.
The operator can also open up multiple windows simultaneously, he said, and the imagery captured within each window can be relayed to up to 10 ground units. So, for example, someone on the ground with an android tablet or phone can pull down surveillance video on spots of particular interest in real time, including areas they may not be able to access right away.
“Redkite is the smallest and most power-efficient WAMI system available and we believe it’s going to be a strategic for aviation and defense,” Rombough said.
Depending on what kind of service package a buyer wants, the Redkite would sell for somewhere between $500,000 and $1 million, Rambough said.