OC-130 KEEN SAGE
The OC-130 KEEN SAGE observation/surveillance aircraft began coming into inventory in FY 1999 and continued in FY 2000. Eight aircraft in the ANG will be modified to carry the four camera systems and replace the retired Pacer Coin C-130s flown by the ANG for the previous several years.
This camera is an upgraded Westcam sensor similar to that in the Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) aircraft and exploits the abilities of trained image interpreters who perform airborne sensor operations from a pallet workstation in the aircraft. Imagery and observations can then be datalinked to ground command centers.
The Keen Sage device is mounted on a pallet and strapped down in the cargo hold of a slightly modified C-130 Hercules. The metal-encased sphere, slightly larger than a basketball, houses three sophisticated video capture lenses -- a daylight television, a 955mm fixed focal length zoom and infrared in six fields. The device is controlled by two operators in the aircraft. The lenses can scan full circle and along 90 degrees of elevation. Once on-line, airborne camera operators can beam live analog video and digitally-captured still images back to a ground station where it is recorded and sent to the relief organizations.
The C-130 is capable of flying any of the image transceivers available from PhotoTelesisTM Corporation. One of the earlier programs was Pacer Coin. These C-130's flew the ATR402WB and transmitted long range FLIR to ground stations using the MIT301. Subsequently, C-130's flew reconnaissance missions using the later PhotoTelesisTM MIT305E running NT operating system and ICE (Imaging and Communications Environment) software. New features added for this program provide Auto Cropping and Burst Capture. Auto Cropping captures only a predetermined portion of the image while Burst Capture captures the auto cropped region at a predetermined capture rate. The results are more images in the area of interest captured and transmitted in less time. A second requirement of this program was Auto Convert. Auto Convert automatically converts images from one format to another on receipt and then automatically saves that image to a predetermined drive or directory.
For about two weeks in December 1998 the Department of Defense conducted an aerial survey over the hurricane harmed parts of Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Belize to collect data for assessing environmental damage. This was done with an OC-130, an Open Skies aircraft, that was taking pictures and making them available to the countries and to environmental groups and others who can use this information to provide help and to work for long term environmental remediation.
Operation Atlas Response, previously named Operation Silent Promise, is the U.S. European Command's contribution to relief efforts following torrential rains and flooding in southern Mozambique and South Africa in early 2000. In coordination with all nations involved, South Africa agreed to provide Hoedspruit military airfield as an intermediate staging base for the humanitarian relief operation. That same day the first two C-130 Hercules aircraft from the 37th Airlift Squadron at Ramstein Air Base arrived with Keen Sage capability. Keen Seen provided imagery gathering capability to assist with the relief effort. Two more C-130s arrived in Hoedspruit March 6, and Keen Sage and tactical airlift missions started March 7. During the operation, there were seven C-130 Hercules airlift aircraft, three of which were Keen Sage capable. JTF Atlas Response was initially tasked to provide operational integration between all nations and agencies providing assistance and perform search and rescue missions. JTF personnel used Keen Sage and pilot observations to assess the ability of roadways to support ground transportation. The C-130 aerial assessment aircraft carrying the Keen Sage imaging system is allowed the Air Force to provide desperately needed video and images of flood-damaged areas in Mozambique to international relief organizations. Most Keen Sage missions are flown at an altitude of 2,000 feet. Keen Sage taskings came from the NGOs, IOs and Mozambique government officials who identified the areas that need assessing. The Keen Sage team then developed its missions based on those requests. Video feeds were examined live and on tape so no details are missed.
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