Harris Corp., along with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Lincoln Labs (MTT/LL) and Sarnoff Corp., announced that it has demonstrated the technology and operational concept of identifying potential military targets obscured by natural and camouflage cover. The project, called JIGSAW, is sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), which is the central research and development organization of the US Department of Defense.

"We are very proud of our partnership with DARPA to advance the state of the art in key battlefield technologies," said Bob Henry, Harris Government Communications Systems Division (GCSD). "We share a common vision that airborne laser radar (LADAR) can be an integral segment of the Future Combat System architecture, providing operational value and saving lives."

JIGSAW utilizes an airborne LADAR transmitter/sensor and sophisticated image processing and visualization software to penetrate dense trees and camouflage in order to detect, identify and characterize targets on the battlefield such as tanks and armored personnel carriers. The JIGSAW team has designed a system that models payloads to be flown on very small vehicles - such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and organic aerial vehicles (OAV) - or larger, higher altitude tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (TUAV).

To demonstrate that the technology works and to ascertain performance parameters, the team successfully fielded a larger-scale prototype which was carried onboard a UH-1N Huey helicopter and flight-tested against real, hidden targets at Redstone Arsenal, AL. During the initial flight tests, just eight months after critical design review, obscured targets were clearly identified. "While these tests are preliminary and there are additional refinements to be performed, the initial results completely validate the system design and viability of the technology," said Henry. "The initial results dramatically improve the capability to identify hidden targets by today's sensor systems. We are committed to evolving this technology into full development and production."

Key elements of the JIGSAW system include a small, rugged laser with a highly sensitive detector, provided by MIT/LL; complex, 3D image registration, provided by Sarnoff; a sophisticated 3D image processor from MIT/LL and Harris, and a powerful, 3D visualization and user interface from Harris.