The award for best — and creepiest — military name of the week? No contest, that’s “Gorgon Stare,” the Air Force’s $150 million project to outfit its latest spy drones with super high-powered cameras.
By next year, 10 Reaper unmanned aircraft should have a Gorgon Stare sensor, which will film an area, two-and-a-half miles around, from 12 different angles.
“Gorgon Stare will allow a combat controller on the ground, a commander at headquarters and an intelligence officer back in the U.S. all to choose a different angle from the same Reaper,” according to Air Force Times‘ Michael Hoffman.
The Reaper – and its little drone brother, the Predator – already have video cameras, of course. Gorgon Stare won’t replace those sensors. Instead, it’s meant to supplement the full-motion video with a jumpier, but wider, view. That’ll allow airmen to ‘see the bigger picture’ and have a better idea where to point full-motion video sensors,” Hoffman notes.
Reapers and MQ-1 Predators are often called on to track vehicles and hover over buildings to watch for “squirters,” or insurgents running out of buildings during U.S. operations. Airmen controlling the sensors sometimes lose track of those vehicles or squirters if they drive or run out of view too fast.
Gorgon Stare will be invaluable in such instances, Bower said. Even if a vehicle drives out of the view of the full-motion video sensor, it will still be within Gorgon Stare’s range. Even if 12 squirters run in 12 directions, Gorgon Stare could dedicate one angle to each one.
But as crazy as that is, Darpa is working on a project that could put Gorgon Stare to shame. The “Argus” program, recently highlighted by David Hambling, uses 92 cameras at once, compared to Gorgon Stare’s measly dozen. But as cool as Argus might turn out to be, it’ll need a revamped name, before it can really compete with Gorgon Stare.