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Raytheon BBN Technologies has been awarded $1.9 million by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory under the Force Protection program. BBN is a wholly owned subsidiary of Raytheon Co.
Military personnel often operate in environments that are potentially dangerous, although not in active combat areas. Networks of sensors, commonly called force protection kits, are used to alert troops to potential dangers in these perilous environments before they become immediate threats. BBN will develop a platform to extend the reach of such force protection kits, particularly for mobile and dismounted troops, who are especially vulnerable.
BBN's goal is to enhance force protection kit performance in a number of significant ways:
- Beyond line-of-sight access to sensors. BBN is developing technologies that will enable force protection kits to use sensors that are beyond their immediate line-of-sight, giving troops on patrol and commanders outside the immediate reach of the force protection kits access to data from more distant sensors.
- Untethered operation. Using a handheld platform developed by a subcontractor, the BBN team is collaborating on adaptations so that troops have greater protection when they are outside their bases or vehicles.
- Automatic archiving. BBN is developing methods that will automatically archive the collected data and make it searchable and retrievable so that troops can review events that may have been missed, analyze events after the fact, or send information on events of interest to analysts.
- Video support. Automatic archiving, tagging, retrieval and search will be applied to video as well as to traditional text and image data to provide full access to critical information in all formats.
- Information ferrying. Because sending information by satellite may be too slow and relaying it by courier is both slow and dangerous, the new platform will support information ferrying to and from remote locations via unmanned aerial vehicles.
"Extending the reach of force protection kits will improve troops' access to information and their reach-back to command and control centers, helping them to make more informed decisions and enabling better mission planning and threat responses," said Joe Loyall, Force Protection program manager for Raytheon BBN Technologies.