Many Headed Dragon Heads to Af-Pak

Many Headed Dragon Heads to Af-Pak

Just in time for the spring offensives in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Air Force should deliver the marvelously named Gorgon Stare sensor.

The first three Gorgon Stare pods, mounted on Reaper MQ-9s, will make to Afghanistan around March or April, LT. Gen. David Deptula told reporters this morning. Gorgon Stare uses five electro-optical and four infrared cameras to take pictures from different angles. Those are put together to build a larger picture. That provides more detail and more flexibility than the current cameras, but perhaps its biggest advantage will be the ability to provide 10 video images to 10 different operators at the same time.

The next set of six Gorgon Stare pods will provide up to 30 feeds to 30 different operators, said Deptula, Air Force deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Those should be ready by September or October. Finally, the third tranche of pods will provide a whopping 65 image feeds to the same number of operators. “We are vastly increasing the capability of our systems without increasing the number of platforms,” Deptula said.

Deptula said that Gorgon Stare was a chief reason the Air Force decided to buy more Reapers instead of Predators. Reapers can carry the new sensors and the good old Predator can’t.

Looking much farther down the road, Deptula said the Air Force wants to turn its long range strike option into a an ISR platform, as much as an industrial age bomber designed principally to find, fix and deliver kinetics to a target. He called it an ISR strike platform, adding that the system could be manned or unmanned depending on mission and need. This was a key part of the new look the service is taking at the platform after Defense Secretary Robert Gates made it very clear a few months ago that he did not think the bomber — or whatever we’re going to call it — was ready for prime time.

Finally, Deptula appeared to show a real flash of anger — or deep-seated frustration — with the Pentagon’s ability to turn out a lighter-than-air platform. “I’m a big fan of airships — OK!” he said in response to a question. He said he wouldn’t go into why the military has taken so long to field a working production model. But he pointed to DARPA’s ISIS program as one that held tremendous potential. Imagine a 1,000-foot long airship floating above 60,000 feet and able to dwell up to 10 years. That’s right. Deptula said 10 years! Here’s DARPA’s description of ISIS: “a stratospheric airship based autonomous unmanned sensor with years of persistence in surveillance and tracking of air and ground targets. It will have the capability to track the most advanced cruise missiles at 600 km and dismounted enemy combatants at 300 km. The ISIS program will develop the technologies that enable extremely large lightweight phased-array radar antennas to be integrated into an airship platform.”

For those who love acronyms, ISIS is a fine example of one that isn’t a real acronym, but a nifty name: Integrated Sensor Is the Structure.

Join the Conversation

ISIS would be amazing. 300 km range for dismounts!
Have they released more public info on the range of Gorgon Stare? Is the wide-area range any greater, or is it just that more many more narrow soda-straw video feeds can be sent out at the same time? The public info I’ve seen says Gorgon Stare has a wide area radius of 4 km — and the 10/30/65 video feeds would be narrow beams within that wide area circle.

Would ISIS have the same ability to track and send dozens of separate video feeds?
How many Gorgon Stare equipped UAVs would be necessary to blanket a city/metro area?
Could tech like this have prevented the Iraqi insurgency from gaining critical mass back in 2003-04? Seems like it could have tracked and disrupted the IED networks early in the war and nipped them in the bud.

ISIS: I’m sure that the requirement says “operate 15 years” and the contractor can only guarantee 12.36, so according to the DoD that’s a failed program that should be cancelled.

You’ve heard the one about “don’t confuse the map with the territory”? The government acquisition process is based on a confusion of the requirements with the mission.

So a 1,000ft airship at 60,000 feet altitude and able to track the most advanced cruise missiles from 600km.

Wouldn’t the sender of such advanced cruise missiles also be able to shoot down a 1,000 ft airship floating
at 60,000 ft?

Good Morning Folks,

Not much to say here with out getting into trouble. I do think its safe to say that this is just an evolutionary step, there is more gee wizz in the pipeline.

Lighter then air, well. I’ve told that Lt. General Deptula lacks significant celebrity for criticism, so I will not make any unkind statements about lighter then air heads. OK Colin.

Active Radar is being replaced by passive sensors, weapons that go boom will be replaced with kinetic and cyber weapons. The ground combat battle space is being expanded beyond the 100Kms that was the wish in 2000​.to over 500 Kms., the Naval Battle group radius on engagement is now 500Kms and will soon be expanded to 2500 Kms.

But of course if one listens to the neo-antebellum “conservative winger think tanks” like Heritage the Chinese are snapping at our heels, yea right and Chairman Mao will do a lecture with concert tour in 2010 with Che as his warm up act, too.

Byron Skinner

Sounds useful. Hopefully the leftist Benedict Obama won’t kill it. Hard to tell, that corrupt weasel is looking for bribe money to pass his Rape America Act of 2009.

Kinda curious as to how much bandwidth Gorgon Stare sucks up in its present or future forms. Does anybody have an idea?

Interesting story.

We may need to equip the drones with more coverage lethal weapon for more effective counterinsergency in afghanistan and Pakistan borders targetting large group of terrorist.



We should have had those the 1st time, remember Mazar-E-Sharif, What fun!!!!!!!!!!!



The cool thing about airships such as ISIS is that they require such low internal pressures to maintain buoyancy. Meaning that the difference between the inside and outside air is only about 2 or 3 psi. A missile would just rip right through the airship and pass right through it, and the hole created wouldn’t cause the airship to deflate.

Good Evening Folks,

Since there is little technical information we can talk about here, there is a topic maybe we can and have a little fun, if thats permitted, it’s called unofficially “Predator Porn.”

Whom ever is working on imaging for UAV’s has developed a filtering software that in effect removes foliage. The unexpected result of this ability Predator has discovered that the all male Taliban are not chaste.

When Ali is under a tree, and thinks that no one is watching, with a favorite fill in the blank________ and throws his head back an mummers “Oh my Allah…oh my Allah…” from 25K Ft. a Predator is catching the show, and recording the image with a resolution that clearly show the face(s) or animals, and they are most identifiable.

A Psych. Ops type I talked about confirmed that they have hundreds of such images and videos and are wondering what to do with them.

A deck of playing cards is out of the question for religious reasons, but I suggested something like trading cards with 3 or 4 in a pack with a sweet and handed out in the villages. Just think of the hours of fun people would have trading these cards back an forth.“Oh their is uncle Abdu and isn’t that___. no it can’t be…by golly, yes it is”.

Byron Skinner

Good Evening Alex,

The information I have put out is from open sources. Some of the systems are not yet operational but are well in the pipeline.

One point of interest might be the contract recently let out contracts for missile rearming stations on both Guam and Diego Garcia for SSGN’s and DD-51’s. Some of the weapons that will go into those boxes are not yet in the fleet.

I would doubt though that there is any nuclear weapons involved, since the Navy last week put a large order for Tomahawk Block IV’s, I would assume they are in the mix, but I wouldn’t rule out Kinetic Warheads SRBM or IRMB’s, Cyber Weapons, new versions of Harpoon, Subrock, SM-3’s etc.

Perhaps the LCASCM that L-3/Titan is developing with both be both a CBU/Anti-Armor weapon with a 20Kg. x 120mm depleted uranium penetrator might find it’s way into the box.

This weapons was widely discussed before the merge but has fallen off the radar screen.

Byron Skinner

This is so absurd. Why didn’t he just say 20 years for even greater drama? How many systems does the AF operate that can even go 5 years between major overhauls? And what kind of archaic electronics will it be using ten years later? Nothing a ground operator will be able to use after all the upgrades. Even in the 50’s nothing was operational for 10 years without many modifications. I think this is just disinformation. Mediocre disinformation at best.

We also needed a space-spy shuttle equip with a hubble like telescope constructed, fitted inside the shuttle to oversee on closeup view of the terrorist movements and whereabouts in Afghanistan and Pakistan border. We needed a good intel to guide our troops on the ground and drones targetting the terrorist.

Please elaborate on how our NBG engagement radius is going to jump to 2500km…is this in reference to the N-UCAS or some secret technology in the pipeline that you have privileged info on?

I hate to skoff at Gorgon Stare. Is it just a disco ball hanging beneath an optical sensor pod? So it has 12 cameras. Are they all gimbaled and controlled independently? If not there is going to be some confusion. And we haven’t talked about which of the 12 operators gets to fly the thing. Or which of the 12 calls for a clear shot and would someone please pass him the joystick so he can light off a Hellfire. Some advantages for sure. Some confusion at times too for inexperienced operators.

The Darpa ISIS airship could be helpfull but may not be lasting since it’s an airship. Haven’t anyone heard of Hindenburg and Graf Zippelin dissaster history? I think a space spy shuttle equip with hubble telescope is more safer, economical and maybe more usefull than the airship.

$25.95 to hack this multimillion dollar piece of tech.

High tech, superior fire power and manuevre, has never been effective against insurgents, with few exceptions, and the Predator is one.
That’s because it is half intelligence and half kill.
And killing isn’t even half of counter-insugence.
If airships prove to be a cheaper way to do the same thing, that’s even better.

But remember, that insurgent warfare is totally attrition, so counter isnurgent warfare has to be the same thing.

It’s just a matter of who wears who down first, and money is a major, for the US, these days.

No more running blank checks up the Cold WAr flag pole while we sing hymns to Arlington Cemetery and fleece Haliburton’s pockets..
Whatever we buy, has to work, and work best for the money.

Well, I’m sure you’re the first one to think of this. You should call the air force and let them know what you said here so they can figure out a way to properly operate the aircraft..I’m sure they are lost right now.

Except it wasn’t “hacked”…an unencrypted video feed was intercepted. This has nothing to do with the predator and everything to do with the communication link.

We also needed a space-spy shuttle equip with a hubble like telescope constructed, fitted inside the shuttle to oversee on closeup view of the terrorist movements and whereabouts in Afghanistan and Pakistan border. ~~~Snip~~~

We tried that already. Manned Orbiting Laboratory. The Russian version was better. We lost that race too.

These high tech drones are so good I am afraid we will start selling themlets hope this program stays highlly classified. They are not for sale treat them as our „Ü-2 or sr-71 program meaning no these economic times..

That hubble allways has been faced towards the direction it wants,can see the shoe lace colors of youre shoes​.As long as we know it is used for our safety great!!

I still cant figure out with all thesehigh tech and expensive gadgets „why we havent been able to get high profile images.,

This device is a bit scary;and i think is a very powerful weapon.
Do you agree?
It is the technology of today.

Attacking an airship is similar to attacking an AWACs or aircraft carrier. The enemy would have to fight its way through fighters and SAMS to take a shot. This is not to say airships are invulnerable. They are best used in either a peace-time environment to guard against a Pearl Harbor sneak attack or in a low-intensity conflict where the enemy (ie Taliban) do not have the means to attack the airship.

I’m not going to get into an argument over semantics, but it’s clear that the military perhaps should spend a little less on the sensors and airframes, and more on the infrastructure that makes this technology possible(like mike j alluded too earlier).

I seem to remember their love of posting videos to the internet when they beheaded a hostage. Perhaps they would like to enjoy similar treatment of their “pecadillos”.

Well obviously there is a trade off..building an encrypted network is expensive and depending on what we are trying to keep secret, the benefit is questionable. What do the Iranians benefit from watching a predator feed? They don’t gain any technological information that isn’t already known about the system (there are enough youtube videos of Taliban getting tagged by hellfires to know what our sensors are capable of), and even if they catch us following someone, it is unlikely they’ll be able to use the intercepted feed to disseminate any useful information. Obviously the Air Force knew this was a possibility and decided it wasn’t important enough to spend the money encrypting the entire network..using it for more drones was more important.

If they have any money to spend beefing up the comm network, it’s probably to prevent jamming which would be much more damaging.

Yup, i read the same news 2day..$26.00 to hack into Predator feeds..jesus h..all that $$ spent and these “cave dwellers” KNOW how to hack into unencrypted video feeds? are we underestimating our enemy? OR, are we that stupid???

tech in the wrong hands will be our undoing..its happening now. iran is gonna [or has] a bomb, they may be looking 4 a delivery think the Israeli’s are just gonna wait around, let them do it? no, its coming, and its gonna be very bad for ALL.…

combination of underestimating the enemy and taking a calculated risk to save money. I doubt the overall advantage they gain from peeping predator feeds is that big. It’s not like they can disseminate the information they are seeing in real time..Mohammed can’t call Ahmed on his cell phone and say “hey watch out buddy, they are watching you”.

Kill all he Taliban and Al quedo that you can see. Make hamburger out of them

Nice to hear you. Make o good deal.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2010
for Corps of Engineers US Army , the whole officers and soldiers US Army
and to everybody who knew me
God Bless you, Brothers,

Better yet!
If the insurgent had uploaded pornography, teh entire Intelligence community would have been fired before anyone realized they were gone!


hahahaha…now that’s funny.

Just Quit, OK? Give it up.
Latest news, is that an Iraqi insurgent was captured, and on his home computer, were files this guy had hacked, using a $26 program, Skygrabber”, that downlaods music and vidoeas from satellites. It’s been around since 1990, but the Pentagon never bothered to encript because they underestimated the enemy.
So, I’ve been denied a thumb drive, I’ve got more watchers on my DoD computer than people actually doing any work, work related sites blocked, ect, ect., but the Petnagon never bothered to encript PRedator data: I guess I’m just not working for the “A” Team.

Looks like the Dragon head preditor was very usefull in the fight againts the terrorist. Make 5000 of this for defense and future threat. And equip them with wider coverage lethal weapons.

The Reaper and Predator UAVs are very useful in reconnaissance and observation work, being able to lob a Hellfire or LGB doesn’t hurt either. What we should work on now is getting that information directly to the squad leader. Remember Land Warrior? That may not have worked out too well, but the technology is still being developed. Imagine the squad leader being able to see the feed directly from an orbiting UAV, allowing him to pinpoint enemy locations.

Future UAVs like the X-45C, X-47B, and MQ-X will often be doing the same job as current designs, but they have better strike capabilities a high level of stealth features. They are no replacement for manned designs however, despite the hype.

ISIS will be just as successful as Lockheeds other LTA program, HAA. Massive promises with absolutely no results!

I think those (X-45X, X-47B and MQ-X) too are good arsenal for defense. Hope we (USA) make 5000 of each too for defense and counter offensive.

We should also secure our Reaper, Predator UAVs, X-45C, X-47B, and MQ-X frequency, control and camera transmision. Maybe we need to change the operating system to unix or something else that are not known to the general public and add encriptions for security.

Actually that would cost WAY more, and not really practical idea, since you can park in orbit above a location without using bu-cu fuel, and/or going for geosynchronous orbit. At 33,000 miles you ain’t gonna see many Hajiis.

Worse yet, they use it to train their troops how to be stealth from aerial discovery. Pretty soon we have a REAL hard time finding them!

It is practical​.It can sit for days without running out of fuel; and can be used to notify UAV controlers when it pays to launch.

If that was ALL it did it would pay for itself many times over. I suspect what kind of “fuel cell” they are dreaming of, but they don’t have the intellectual rights to it yet. Either that or they are playing fast and loose with the meaning of fuel cell.

Yeah, but they can use it for perspective on how to avoid aerial observation! Why let them have the chance?


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