In today’s environment of increased security threats both abroad and in the United States, the US Air Force Air Mobility Command (AMC) was searching for an effective and affordable solution to protect billions of dollars worth of aircraft and assets on their flight lines. Their goal: to detect and identify potential threats and react to those threats before they can inflict harm on personnel, aircraft, and other critical infrastructure.

AMC recently contracted with ARA to provide the newly-developed Remote Automated Portable Intrusion Detection (RAPID) system, providing a wide area surveillance and perimeter security capability for AMC bases. RAPID is a portable, trailer mounted system that fuses ground based radar, high resolution day and night cameras, and wireless communications to automatically detect intrusions into prohibited areas, sound an alarm to security personnel, and provide day/night immediate visual assessment of targets. Three RAPID systems will be deployed to Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota, home of the 319th Air Refueling Wing, and one system will be located to Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, home of the 375th Air Mobility Wing. The systems will be used for wide area intrusion and assessment around the bases’ flight lines.

André Shipp, an engineer with ARA’s North Florida Division, led an ARA team to develop the RAPID System after witnessing the shortfalls of existing security systems while serving as deputy chief of security forces for the 90th Space Wing. “This is a problem that used to keep me up at night, knowing that a few 20 year old airmen were standing in harms way, faced with the Herculean task of protecting our most important military assets,” said Shipp. “The effective and efficient protection of our personnel and resources remains a critical objective for both civilian and military organizations. Many current systems are at the end of their life expectancy, and have serious limitations.”

Shipp’s goal was to create a portable trailer mounted system that was easy to use, fully customizable, and operable in all weather conditions, day or night. “Bases located in cold climates often had to use blankets to keep equipment warm enough to be operable,” said Shipp. “We’ve designed a system that solved this problem.” RAPID includes all-weather electronic equipment and a unique, self-contained power system made up of solar panels, batteries, and a diesel generator that allows for up to seven days of operation without manually refueling. “With RAPID, US bases and deployed forces are able to quickly and inexpensively set up a security system, with cutting edge technological capabilities, that requires no additional power or communications infrastructure,” says Shipp. RAPID’s secure wireless communications capability allows real-time information to be sent to command and control centers as well as vehicle patrols. “Some organizations also have existing sensors and cameras, which we can easily integrate into the RAPID system,” said Shipp. “This provides a tremendous cost savings.”

With the portability of the trailer system, Shipp and his team have been able to conduct demonstrations of the system for military and civilian agencies across the country over the past few months. “Although initially designed for the Air Force, RAPID has application anywhere mobile, wide area detection and assessment is required, such as military bases, airfields, ports or other maritime security applications, power plants, border protection, detention facilities and other critical infrastructure,” said Chuck Red, Manager of ARA’s North Florida Division. “The need is definitely there. Based on feedback from our demonstrations, RAPID is the first of its kind when it comes to capability and affordability.”