ASTAMIDS Mine And IED Detector
The Army’s new airborne surveillance system detects landmines and IEDs…
Hidden IEDs are one of the major threats to troops on the battlefield, and equally as dangerous, traditional landmines still plague areas years after wars. But thanks to Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Army there’s now an airborne system capable of detecting both.
The Airborne Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Minefield Detection System or ASTAMIDS, is a state-of-the-art ground-penetrating laser system that can be mounted on MQ-8 Fire Scout UAV, the UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter, as well as fixed wing aircraft, to detect mines or IDE that may buried ahead.
Developed by Northrop-Grumman the system provides multispectral imaging using quad-prism aperture-splitting technology inconjunction with an integrated illuminator, target rangefinder, flight package (GPS, altimeter), and laser designator.
ASTAMIDS Landmine and IED Detector
Using this array of technology the system is capable of identifying thermal and visual anomalies. It can scan the ground and differentiate between surface, buried and scattered mines.
Aside from the primary counter IDE and counter land mine capabilities, ASTAMIDS’s rapid detection makes it equally as useful for reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition, it can also designate targets for laser guided munitions like the Hellfire missiles.
The sensor can observe an area 125 feet wide on every pass, and has a two-hour operational capability.
The $123 million ASTAMIDS system, which made its maiden flight aboard an unmanned MQ-8B on Sept, 12th, 2008, was developed as part of the Army’s Countermeasures and Explosive Ordnance Devices and Command and Control Systems program.
Bob Klein, vice president of Northrop Grumman Maritime and Tactical Systems integrated product team said:
“ASTAMIDS itself is important because of what it will do to alert our ground combat soldiers of approaching threats…
“What makes this sensor-vehicle combination so significant is that Fire Scout can carry ASTAMIDS far beyond the point of U.S. ground forces to detect the presence of minefields and sight enemy locations without putting a single soldier at risk.”
The current prototype isn’t as stable as ground-based models, however this is expected to change as the technology advances. Future version are expected to work at higher altitudes, be able to identify more objects, and work in less than ideal conditions.
“ASTAMIDS will give Army Brigade Combat Teams unprecedented situational awareness and target designation capabilities,” according to the U.S. Army PM Close Combat Systems.
- ASTAMIDS Fly-By Mine Detectors Save US Lives and Limbs. Gizmodo, 05/10/2012.
- New Counter-Mine System Demonstrates Counter-IED Capabilities. Defense Update, 2011.