WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army selected two companies to design and build prototype sensors for its next-generation airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance system, according to a June 14 announcement.

The Army Project Director for Sensors — Aerial Intelligence awarded other transaction authority contracts on June 11 to both L-3 Communications Integrated Systems and Raytheon Applied Signal Technology. The OTA agreements, subject to less stringent competitive requirements to speed up prototyping, are valued at $4.37 million over an eight-month period in phase 1, but the overall project could ultimately net the companies $49 million during the life of the project.

With the phase 1 awards, each company will develop, build and integrate a suite of electronic intelligence and communications intelligence sensors for the airborne ISR platform called High Accuracy Detection and Exploitation System, or HADES. While the Army has not settled on what platform will host the sensor system, it is currently envisioned as a manned fixed-wing jet that can operate “at altitudes and ranges beyond those of existing platforms,” including the Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System, Guardrail’s King Air, and Airborne Reconnaissance Low DHC-8, according to a spokesperson for the aerial intelligence project director. HADES is a joint effort between that office — which is acquiring the sensors — and Project Manager Fixed Wing, which is developing the aircraft.

“The Army is pursuing HADES to address the demands of future Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) against peer- and near-peer adversaries,” said Project Director Dennis Teefy in a statement. “The goal is to provide deep-sensing intelligence collection of indicators and warnings, electronic order of battle, and patterns of life for target development. This will allow stand-off operations to detect, locate, identify and track critical targets for the ground commander.”

HADES is just one piece of the Army’s Multi-Domain Sensing System program, an effort to fill the Army’s deep sensing requirement with a number of sensors that can work with any platform. The family of systems will include several high altitude platforms, including balloons, solar gliders, small satellites and aircraft. While the sensors in this contract are specifically for HADES, the Army expects that they can be applied to other platforms due to open standards engineering practices, said a PD SAI spokesperson.

Phase 1 of the HADES OTA will include sensor demonstrations under controlled conditions, followed by a down-select to one or two vendors for phase 2, which will include design modifications, upgrades and prototype fabrication. Further phases will finalize prototype design and integrate it onto an aircraft platform selected by PM Fixed Wing.

Nathan Strout covers space, unmanned and intelligence systems for C4ISRNET.

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