Vigilant Stare Launch Airborne Wide Area Persistent Surveillance (WAPS) Service

DHC 6 Twin Otter operated by SNC was used for the testing of the Vigilant Stare persistent surveillance sensor package. Photo: SNC

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) and ITT Exelis are nearing completion and testing of Vigilant Stare, a manned aircraft-based Wide-Area Persistent Surveillance (WAPS) concept demonstrator. The system will achieve initial operational capability in August 2012, with the planned launch of services providing customers with airborne wide-area persistent surveillance on a fee-for-service basis.

In recent system testing by SNC, the Vigilant Stare system carried on a Twin Otter aircraft delivered imagery directly to users in real time, via a WIMAX/4G LTE dissemination channel. Imagery was displayed on the ground stations using common off-the-shelf hand-held devices.

“The Vigilant Stare system offers unprecedented WAPS capability to a previously unserviced market, in an affordable and flexible package,” Dave Bullock, vice president for SNC’s ISR Persistent Surveillance Systems said. “The civil and commercial applications of this operations-proven technology are many and varied. We’re excited about the successful completion of our concept demonstrator flight test phase and look forward to a busy demonstration and exercise schedule this fall.”


Operated as a partnership between SNC and Exelis, Vigilant Stare provides WAPS capabilities with various manned aircraft platforms such as the Twin Otter, Bombardier Q200, Dornier 328, King Air 350, and Pilatus PC-12.

“With the completion of initial flight tests, we remain on track to make Vigilant Stare available for operations by the end of the year,” said Danny Rajan, director of airborne and emerging solutions at ITT Exelis Geospatial Systems. “We are currently in discussion with customers regarding specific operational scenarios, ranging from persistent wide-area airborne surveillance for major public events to supporting border security operations.”

Derived from operationally proven systems created from SNC and Exelis technology and engineering, Vigilant Stare’s integrated EO/IR sensor collects synoptic, day/night motion imagery of city-sized fields of regard with multiple sub-views of the full field of view. In addition, best-resolution tactical chip-outs are provided in real time to both centralized command centers as well as to dispersed users employing commercial devices, including tablets and phones. This diversified dissemination capability optimizes situational awareness across multiple echelons simultaneously.

In addition to support of military contingencies of force protection and intelligence collection, typical WAPS services could also support border security surveillance, surveillance of areas suspected of illegal activity, national security at special or sporting events, port security surveillance, as well as natural disaster response and search and rescue efforts.

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