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Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (MARSS)

The Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (MARSS; also referred to as Multi-Sensor Airborne Reconnaissance and Surveillance System or Multi-Mission Airborne Reconnaissance Surveillance System) is a manned aerial collection systems that perform signals intercept, direction finding, precision location, and day and night full-motion video. MARSS provides electro-optical/infra-red (day/night) full-motion video to tactical commanders.

The MARSS provides the commander with a multi-intelligence collection capability to accurately detect, identify, and report threat targets in near real-time. The system consists of a aircraft fitted with an L-3 MX-15i electro-optical/infra-red sensor and a COMINT and ELINT intercept capability. As of June 2010, 11 MARSS had been fitted Beechcraft King Air B-300 aircraft. The MARSS had also been fitted by that time to 2 DHC Dash 7 (DHC-7; specially configured contractor-operated/contractor owned DHC Dash 8 aircraft were observed and this may have been a confusion between those aircraft and the DHC-7 aircraft used for the US Army's Airborne Reconnaissance Low program) aircraft and 2 Beechcraft King Air B-200 aircraft.

The MARSS was developed as a compliment to the Airborne Reconnaissance Multi-sensor System (ARMS), also known as Horned Owl, which had been deployed to Iraq to support counter-IED operations. The MARSS was intended for deployment to Afghanistan and deployed there as a quick reaction capability.

On 9 February 2009, Telford Aviation, Incorporated of Bangor, Maine was awarded an $11,058,171.02 cost plus fixed fee, time and materials contract for procurement of components of the Multi-Sensor Airborne Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (MARSS), and 2 appropriate aircraft platforms, and to have the contractor integrate the prime mission equipment, thereby creating 2 additional MARSS. The contract also included modification and integration to standardize the cockpits for MARSSs XI-XVIII. Work was to be performed at Hagerstown, Maryland with an estimated completion date of 31 July 2009. One sole source bid was solicited and one bid received. US Army Communications-Electronics Command Acquisition Center at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey was the contracting activity.

The system was utilized initially in the Operation Enduring Freedom area of operations. As of June 2010, MARSS was fielded as a quick reaction capability niche system deployed in the Central Command area of operations.




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