Hostile Fire Detection System Could Reduce False Alarms

By Valerie Insinna
Troops at forward operating bases in Afghanistan must sometimes contend with adversaries who quickly move in, fire rockets or mortars and then retreat before they can be engaged. A new hostile fire detection system may more accurately locate explosions, from longer ranges.

The system, called Serenity, was scheduled for its first deployment at a forward operating base in Afghanistan in September, said John Marion, president of Logos Technologies.

“By the time the current systems figure out that there’s been a launch and they’re able to zero in on where it came from, the folks have driven away,” he said.  “Cutting down the amount of time from where the launch occurred and when we’ve got eyes on that location from perhaps several minutes to perhaps a few seconds is going to be real critical in shutting down that threat.”

Current fire detection systems are not always useful for identifying gunfire and explosions because of high false alarm rates, he said. “What occurs is that the crews eventually just turn them off because they’re … going off all the time.”

In order to decrease false alarms, Serenity is equipped with two kinds of sensors. The first — the optical gunfire, rockets and explosive flash detection system developed by Logos — uses high-speed optical cameras that have been filtered and tuned to pinpoint the signature of chemical explosives, Marion said. Serenity also employs an acoustic sensor called Firefly, developed by the Army’s Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center.

“The two together have a very low false alarm rate,” he said. Most other hostile fire systems are based on just one kind of sensor.

Serenity will be deployed on aerostats and integrated with other sensors, including full motion video or infrared cameras, Marion said. It will also plug into Kestrel, a wide area surveillance system that can monitor an entire forward operating base and the surrounding area.

“When the Serenity system indicates there’s a fire [or] an event, it cues the Kestrel, and so the operator can quickly find where the person that launched it is,” he said.

Topics: Infotech, Architecture

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