The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is leveraging on its AgilePod multi-sensor payload pod prototype in order to develop a new ‘mini’ variant that will form the basis of a family of scaled sensor pods to suit various airborne platforms.
AgilePod is a platform-agnostic, multi-intelligence (multi-INT)pod system developed by the AFRL to demonstrate the benefits of agile manufacturing and a modular open systems architecture approach, which potentially increases the affordability and flexibility of podded intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities operated by air force special operations communities. As well as owning the prototype, the AFRL also has unlimited rights to the technical data for its design.
Delivered to the AFRL’s Materials and Manufacturing Directorate by KeyW Corporation in December 2016, the AgilePod is a standards-based modular open systems pod engineered to support rapid multi-INT payload reconfigurability, and multi-platform agility. Comprised of compartments ranging in length from 28 to 60 inches, the pod can be assembled in different configurations to enable diverse sensor/communication packages to be hosted for a mission. For example, high-definition video and electro-optical and infrared sensors and radar can be deployed in a single pod enclosure, eliminating the weight that might accompany multiple pieces of equipment to do the same.
The prototype AgilePod was carried aboard a DC-3 aircraft in mid-2017 for risk reduction flight testing.
Performed by Leidos as part of Project ‘Harvest Reaper’, the test demonstrated how open architectures along with common mechanical and electrical solutions could enable rapid reconfiguration of ISR sensors to support operational needs for multiple aircraft. The Leidos team demonstrated eight different sensors in five different configurations as part of ‘Harvest Reaper’.
The pod is also expected to be flight tested on an MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial system by the end of 2017.
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