Predator C - The Avenger

Discussion in 'U.S. Air Force' started by Technofox, Aug 20, 2016.

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  1. Technofox

    Technofox That Norwegian girl Staff Member Ret. Military Developer

    Oct 8, 2015
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    Photo Emerges Of Stealthy Avenger Drone Fitted With Advanced Multi-Spectral Sensor Suite

    It was reported that the drone would fly a series of test missions with the shadowy MS-177 multi-spectral sensor suite.Although these tests are said to have occurred last winter, no images of the Avenger outfitted with the cumbersome sensor have emerged, until now.

    As you can see, the MS-177 is a fairly massive device, changing the underbelly lines of the Avenger entirely. The sensor system is destined for the USAF’s Block 30 RQ-4 Global Hawk but was previously tested on a E-8 J-STARS in a bay area located behind the militarized 707’s APY-7 radar. It has also flown on Northrop Grumman’s Gulfstream V test jet that is uses as a surrogate for J-STARS related development and testing.

    It is supposedly capable of taking one-meter resolution “fused” footage/imagery, where it combines a wide spectrum of infrared and optical wavelengths into a single image, over long distances. MS-177 is supposedly superior in many ways to the SYERS2 imaging sensor suitethat has been deployed on the U-2 Dragon Lady and is now being tested on the Global Hawk.

    The test aboard the E-8 allowed operators to use the sensor creatively alongside the aircraft’s radar, which is optimized for detecting movements on the ground. This could drastically increase situational awareness below. Mike Mos, director of Joint STARS architectures and concept demonstrations for Northrop Grumman stated:

    "From long distances, the APY-7 radar combined with the MS-177 camera could identify very clearly people, buildings, automobiles and ships… Coupling the electro-optical/infrared [EO/IR] capability of the MS-177 camera with the GMTI capability makes the system an even stronger force multiplier."


    The Avenger’s test of the MS-177 took place over seven flights last January and February. Various objects were observed and the ability to data-link the sensor’s imagery efficiently was successfully tested. Next the sensor will fly on the higher-flying Global Hawk with hopes that it will become operational as a sensor option in 2017.

    The effort to mate the MS-177 with the Block 30 RQ-4 is part of a larger initiative to advance the RQ-4 far enough so that the U-2 Dragon Lady can be retired. A “universal payload adapter” has been built for the Global Hawk so that it can accommodate an array of sensors, including some of those used by the U-2, such as its SYERS 2 suite and its Optical Bar Camera system. This initiative can help get the RQ-4 on par with the U-2, as well as save money by allowing the Global Hawk to host sensors that the USAF has already paid for.

    Over time, the MS-177 could also find itself on other platforms, such as the replacement for the E-8 J-STARS that will likely be based on a long-range business jet design. Even a stealthy penetrating reconnaissance aircraft could make use of the high-fidelity sensor.

    As for the Avenger’s future, it doesn’t look all that bright, at least when it comes to expanded service within the USAF. A representative from the USAF's Big Safari rapid capabilities office stated that there are no future plans for the USAF’s single Avenger demonstrator:

    “In accordance with the 2011 defense appropriation act, the air force procured prototype demonstration capabilities of the Avenger system... The demonstration has completed and there are no current plans for future demonstrations.”


    I skipped a bunch of the introductory info, but as always, the full article is here: