BAGHDAD, Jan. 30, 2009 – The Iraqi air force demonstrated its capability to view polling stations and other potential critical-incident locations from above Jan. 28 in preparation for tomorrow’s provincial elections.
This “eye in the sky” is a sensor system similar to that of a U.S. Predator unmanned aerial vehicle, downlinked for display into the Iraqi prime minister’s national operations center.
Iraqi air force officials conducted the demonstration for the Iraqi National Security Advisor Mowaffak al-Rubaie, other senior government officials and coalition military advisors to showcase the King Air 350 intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft’s ability to provide real-time surveillance and full-motion video to support decision-making in the prime minister’s operations center.
The twin-engine turboprop aircraft boasts a crew of three, including a dedicated sensor operator. It can fly for more than six hours and has an operational radius of more than 1,000 nautical miles. The Iraqi air force’s five King Air 350s operate from the 87th Squadron‘s headquarters at New Al-Muthana Air Base in Baghdad.
Four fixed ground stations, or downlink sites, are located throughout Iraq, and the Iraqi air force has five mobile ground receivers that provided the link into the operations center during the Jan. 28 demonstration.
The demonstration highlighted the aircraft’s ability to display full-motion video through the airplane’s 360-degree electro-optical sensor to the mobile ground receiver.
In addition to the video capability, the system also provides an infrared sensor, synthetic aperture radar imaging capability, and capabilities to detect moving vehicles.
With this capability, Iraq’s top national security leadership and other decision makers now have a system to provide real-time, accurate information to help them make better decisions when responding to crises or conducting military and civil operations, officials said.
U.S. Navy Cmdr. Chuck Pratt, an intelligence advisor with Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq’s intelligence transition team, commented on the King Air 350’s advanced capabilities.
“We envision the Iraqi air force using this system to support military or police operations centers, or, for example, with the Iraqi navy, supporting maritime security operations and oil platform defense in the northern Arabian Gulf,” he said. “We also need to network the ground stations so information can be viewed where it is needed.”
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