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GORGON STARE

The Gorgons were monstrous females with huge teeth like those of swine, brazen claws, and serpents on their heads instead of hair. There were three Gorgons, none of these beings make much figure in mythology except Medusa, the chief of the three, and the only one that was mortal. Medu'sa was so hideous that whoever set eyes on her face was instantly turned into stone. Perseus was the son of Jupiter and Danae. When Perseus was grown up Polydectes, king of the country, sent him to attempt the conquest of Medusa, a terrible monster who had laid waste the country. She was once a beautiful maiden whose hair was her chief glory, but as she dared to vie in beauty with Minerva, the goddess deprived her of her charms and changed her beautiful ringlets into hissing serpents. She became a cruel monster of so frightful an aspect that no living thing could behold her without being turned into stone. All around the cavern where she dwelt might be seen the stony figures of men and animals which had chanced to catch a glimpse of her and had been petrified with the sight. Perseus, favored by Minerva and Mercury, the former of whom lent him her shield and the latter his winged shoes, approached Medusa while she slept, and taking care not to look directly at her, but guided by her image reflected in the bright shield which he bore, he cut off her head, and gave it to Minerva, who fixed it in the middle of her AEgis.

The U.S. Air Force's new Gorgon Stare (formerly Wide Area Airborne Surveillance System WAAS) will meet Combatant Commander (COCOM) Wide Area Airborne Surveillance (WAAS) urgent operational need and will be managed by the Air Force through the 645th Aeronautical Systems Group (AESG, aka BIG SAFARI), Reconnaissance Systems Wing, Aeronautical Systems Center, Air Force Material Command. Develop a podded wide area airborne sensor suite to provide city-sized and similar broad area surveillance capability for the Combatant Commanders (COCOMs). WAAS was renamed Gorgon Stare in FY11.

Gorgon Stare is described as a revolutionary intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) technology, made its combat debut in December 2010, flying over undisclosed locations in Afghanistan on board MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The Air Force plans to install a wide-area airborne surveillance sensor under its MQ-9 Reapers that lets troops look at more of the battlefield from more angles. Ten of the service's Reapers started getting the sensor in spring 2010.

In 2008 the DOD leadership requested funds for the Air Force to acquire a combined, enhanced system, currently called Wide-Area Airborne Surveillance (WAAS), to image a larger area than Constant Hawk or Angel Fire, enable night operations, real-time support to ground forces, provide a forensic capability, and support many simultaneous targeting and surveillance missions. It could cue and hand off targets to FMV platforms for prosecution. The Air Force intended to field the WAAS system on the Reaper, or MQ-9, UAS. It may require less time and cost to field the WAAS system on the Sky Warrior, or Predator-1C. There were initially several proposals under consideration to field WAAS capabilities on other platforms, such as the Shadow UAS.

The Joint Requirements Oversight Council Memorandum (JROCM 106-08, dated 27 May 08) approved the Air Force concept for a Wide Area Airborne Surveillance (WAAS) program plan to address Service requirements for wide area airborne sensors on existing manned and unmanned aircraft system platforms. Funding will be allocated in FY09-FY13 for this Air Force Quick Reaction Capability (QRC) program (Gorgon Stare) to meet Combatant Commander (COCOM) Wide Area Airborne Surveillance (WAAS) urgent operational need and will be managed through the 645th Aeronautical Systems Group (AESG, a.k.a. BIG SAFARI Program Office), 303rd Reconnaissance Systems Wing, Aeronautical Systems Center, Air Force Material Command. The acquisition strategy for this Air Force QRC includes delivery of capability in two increments, with development of Increment 2 capability expanding the capabilities of Increment 1. FY11 funding is required to complete development of Increment 2 capability.

The Sierra Nevada sensor, which the Air Force nicknamed the "Gorgon Stare", is designed to operate from any platform, integrated with the Distributed Common Ground System which is used by all services to analyse imagery. The original Air Force plan was to deploy the Gorgon Stare on the MQ-9 in 2010, but Secretary of Defense Bob Gates told the service to be more responsive to immediate battlefield needs. The WAAS system will support an end-to-end (collector to Service Processing, Exploitation, and Dissemination (PED) and/or tactical user) motion imagery based system for contiguous airborne wide area coverage of urban and selected environments with sufficient resolution and revisit rate to find, fix and track vehicles and individual dismounts within its field of view, day and/or night. The capability will enable concurrent near real-time situational awareness, forensic analysis, and cross-cueing for other ISR sensors. WAAS data will support tactical users, commanders, and be globally disseminated to other nodes, inside and outside theater, including injection into Service PED architectures to support further phases of exploitation. The details of an end-to-end WAAS solution are being developed based upon requirements, Trade Study analysis, and a collaborated team effort by the Services, National Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) Agency (NGA) and Combatant Commands (COCOM).

The FY 2009 Global War on Terror Bridge Supplemental request included $0.1 billion to procure eight Wide Area Airborne Surveillance (WAAS) sensors to provide persistent 24/7 city-size video coverage with direct feed to ground troops within line-of-site and operations centers for immediate exploitation. WAAS will also store high-resolution data for forensics and provide Multi-INT cued high-res spot coverage for moving target tracking and identification.



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