C4iSR: Air

USAF integrates AgilePod onto light attack jet

15 January 2018

The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) demonstrated the flexibility of its open architecture AgilePod by fitting it aboard a Textron Aviation Defense Scorpion light attack/intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) jet.

AgilePod is a government-owned, and air force-trademarked, modular designed sensor pod with reconfigurable compartments that can be mounted onto any aircraft using a bomb rack unit mount. The pod enables flight-line operators to customise sensor packages to meet specific mission needs.AFRL's AgilePod being mounted onto a Textron Aviation Defense Scorpion Light Attack/ISR jet. (AFRL)AFRL's AgilePod being mounted onto a Textron Aviation Defense Scorpion Light Attack/ISR jet. (AFRL)

The fit check was performed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, in December 2017 and provided an opportunity to demonstrate the ability of the pod to be integrated rapidly aboard any aircraft, according to AFRL.

This was the first time the AgilePod was fit-tested on a commercially built manned platform. The pod was built to be integrated onto a Special Operations MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle.

“The Scorpion ISR/attack jet is built with composite materials and standard interfaces. The industry-standard interfaces enabled the AgilePod to integrate easily on the platform,” AFRL said.

The fit check was another positive step for the AgilePod programme. In 2017, AFRL conducted 14 flights using five AgilePod configurations, eight different sensors, and multiple types of mounts. Some of the flights were to test sensors, some were focused on the flight characteristics of flying with AgilePod. Those flight tests took place aboard a DC-3 aircraft and were designed to reduce risk for the upcoming fit aboard an MQ-9 Reaper in 2018.

For the flight test AFRL flew Geospatial intelligence sensors and AgilePod carried an electro-optical infrared sensor (EOIR), full motion video (FMV), wide area FMV, and an Airborne Cueing and Exploitation System-Hyperspectral (ACES-HY) sensor.

A government-owned open architecture command and control tool was used for the different sensors. AFRL also developed a tool to fuse the sensor data.

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