back to article US deploys 1.8 gigapixel helicopter surveillance drones to Afghanistan

The US Army will deploy Boeing A160T Hummingbird surveillance helicopter drones for the first time (officially at least) in Afghanistan by June 2012. The 35 foot long Hummingbird can operate at a ceiling of 30,000 feet, has 2,250 miles of range and can fly at a maximum of 165mph, with Boeing claiming an endurance record in its …

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Pirate

In case of GPS problems

(or whatever), presumably these'll be fitted with some kind of self destruct from now on........

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Joke

All helicopters are fitted with a self destruct mechanism, it's called "being a helicopter." Letting go of the controls for a few seconds should be very quick and effective in reducing it to an unrecognizable pile of scrap.

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FAIL

Yeah, so far I'm disappointed and embarrassed with the US military for all the total screwups we've had with drones. I'll be waiting for an article related to this one.

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Anonymous Coward

Impressive. Gives a resolution of a shade under 4cm x 4cm on the ground. I wonder if the sensor resembles a compound eye built up of hundreds of hi-res CCDs. A 1.8G pixel video feed would require some hefty bandwidth, even if it's mostly for local storage.

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Anonymous Coward

Well, there goes the bandwidth.

If you've seen some of the gigapixel pictures floating around, with amazing lots of zoom capability, then you know this is peeping tom's dream. Suddenly all those head-to-toe scarves and metres-high garden walls seem less than paranoid. But the first thing I thought of was, where are they going to get the bandwidth to beam all that back to base? They must have some pretty comms sat capacity in orbit then. How many of those things can they support simultaneously?

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Boffin

My guess is that they don't

Perhaps a low-resolution stream from each 'segment', and then particular segments of interest can be chosen for full-resolution imagery.

Alternatively, a low framerate - 1 full-frame-per-minute is not a very high data rate, and something like that is probably more than sufficient for most surveillance purposes.

Again, segments of interest could then be chosen for higher FPS - once you see a possible target start to move, start following it at a much higher framerate while the rest of the camera continues at the low 'base' framerate.

Perhaps the whole image could be captured at the high framerate but stored locally until required, thus you can still 'rewind live TV' while the bird is in the air and also have the whole thing available for detailed analysis once the helicoptr comes back to ground.

I doubt it can stay on station for more than a few hours anyway, simply due to fuel.

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Meh

How many?

How many of those things can they support simultaneously?

3 apparently

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Trollface

$$$

Could make many dollars shooting marriage ceremonies from the sky.

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Trollface

Wot?

Afghani marriage ceremonies???

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Anonymous Coward

"Could make many dollars shooting marriage ceremonies from the sky."

I thought standard operating procedure was to drop laser guided bombs on them, claim that it was a bunch of insurgents, then go quiet when the wedding video shows up.

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Trollface

don't they fire rifles into the sky?

Wouldn't want to be in a helicopter above one then.

Or you could drop a napalm bomb on them and claim they shot first!

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Holmes

Fascinating, to be sure.

The Afghan arsehanding moneyburning Pakitrolling civviekilling still going on?

Pity.

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FAIL

Fascinating, to be sure.

As with the ongoing "unrest" in Iraq, the massive majority of people killed in Afghanistan are killed by "insurgents", i.e. clans linked to the Taleban and AQ. I'm so sorry if your skim-reading of Indymedia hid that simple fact from you.

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Anonymous Coward

...

You seem to consider yourself well informed or at least more well informed than anyone else. So presumably you can easily provide concrete independent evidence of this fact you have stated?

Sorry to disapoint but. Fox news links will not be acceptable.... I know some of the other sites can sometimes use big words but see what you can do.

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FAIL

RE: ...

Links posted Saturday 31st December 2011 12:58 GMT in answer to another sheeple's bleating. Obvioulsy, all those sites with the long words you mentioned were not perused by yourself, or more likely not on the approved reading list given to you by your herders.

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FAIL

RE: ..., Part D'oh

Want some up-to-date reading on documented Iraq casualty figures? For a link that may have got onto your approved reading list (though the herders probably won't want it there for long now that it destroys the completely debunked Lancett figures you lot love rebleating):

http://www.iraqbodycount.org/analysis/numbers/2011/

Even anti-war sites like IBC have had to admit the majority of violence in Iraq is either Iraqi-on-Iraqi or non-Iraqi-"insurgent"-on-Iraqi (though, they use the term "anti-government forces", being politically-allergic to nasty terms like "terrorists" or even "insurgents"). In their analysis of their own 2011 figures, they quote: ".....anti-government attacks accounted for 1,172 civilian deaths in 2011 (from 888), Iraqi security forces accounted for 140 (up from 96) and US troops were responsible for 19 civilian killings in 2011 (down from 32 in 2010)....."

Now, do please leave the discussion to the more informed or those at least able to do a simple Web search before bleating.

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Black Helicopters

@richard12 - Look at the thumbnails on the left side of picture

There are 14 "thumbnails" on the right side of the panoramic combined view. Figure they are 1.3 MP per thumbnail and then combined into one panoramic view for 18 Gigapixel overall.

I would figure they have onboard buffering for each of 14) 1.3 MP CCD and ability to see each view individually in much higher resolution and framerates. The distortion of the main view probably means the CCD's are ganged together under one lens like the retina of your eye. Select the appropriate "view" and optically zoom in, do lens error correction and digital zoom and you get a great picture. From that height, the camera view angle at the ground is pretty wide and this helps them get better resolution without higher bandwidth

Several commercial surveillance camera companies use this multi CCD sensor tech to avoid having pan and tilt mechanisms.

Of course you know they have better sensors than available commercially. Probably have great FLIR capability too!

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Black Helicopters

A larger version of the image from the Aviation Week site is here.

http://sitelife.aviationweek.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/10/9/9a16a33e-462e-4149-a9a8-5f2e11c2c6b6.Full.jpg

It shows more information on the thumbnails on the left and seems to indicate that individual sensors are about 5Mpixels ( 2592x1944) and that video feeds are 640x480 pixel sub-windows of these.

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Black Helicopters

more info..

There's some more technical info about the sensors here...

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs/defense/index.jsp?plckController=Blog&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&plckPostId=Blog%3A27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7Post%3A881370e5-a10f-46be-bab0-bf60fa08b425

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Anonymous Coward

Funnily enough

this spy-copter has (at point 12) taken photos of a pair of Black Helicopters!

Also, is the oddly-coloured bit just to the left of window 10 a sign of multispectral imaging? False-colour IR, something like that?

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A camera resolution that high is useless if the "intelligence" at the other end is crap and if countries like Iran have the technology to spoof the GPS in order to capture it. But it's great if you're Rick Perry and your plan is to use it to patrol the US border with Mexico or you're a US police department using it to track down stolen cows (both true stories).

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Units

"The 35 foot long Hummingbird can operate at a ceiling of 30,000 feet, has 2,250 miles of range and can fly at a maximum of 165mph, with Boeing claiming an endurance record in its class with an 18.7 hour flight time."

What's that in midget spans, furlongs and Standard Spaghettilengths per Venutian mooncycle?

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Trollface

@the US is a bit short of enemies hiding in jungles

it's rather Afghanistan being short of jungles than US of enemies (in any given type of terrain)

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Pirate

RE: @the US is a bit short of enemies hiding in jungles

Actually, the US is very involved in jungle monitoring of the Islamist Moro "insurgents" (and Al Quaida-linked groups like Abu Sayyaf) in the Phillipines, and is thought to have provided satellite and drone assistance to the Phillipinos for many years. The satellite intel seeming to even have pre-dated the start of Estrada's jungle war campaign in July 2000. As of the official declaration of Operation Enduring Freedom Phillipines in 2001, the CIA's own hit-squads and other US Special Forces have been hunting and killing the "insurgenct" leaders, though it is reported that US SFs were using "exercises" to hunt the MILF (no, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, not housewives) from as far back as the '90s. Hovering drones with the ability to "see" through the jungle canopy would be very useful in that monitoring role and any future actions against the MILFs.

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Anonymous Coward

@AC 4x4cm

I'm not saying you're wrong as I may have misread it, but...

25ish sq miles/1.8gigapixels = 25 * 1600 * 1600/1.8E9 = 356 sq cm = an 18.9cm square (assuming square pixels.)

Although also, there's no mention of optics.

I'll bet the science of differential photography's taken off somewhere.

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Anonymous Coward

And assuming each pixel is multi-chromatic.

Although of course it depends on altitude. If that's at maximum altitude, it'd be more likely that the thing would fly lower and have greater resolution.

As to bandwidth issues... they thought of that. Run a google search for 'Blue Devil'.

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Coat

"There's *always* an enemy, Steed.

You just need to know where to look"

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Afghanistan weapons testing facility

How lucky for Afghanistan that their country has beeen chosen by the US miletary to test out their next generation weapons systems ..

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FAIL

RE: Afghanistan weapons testing facility

"How lucky for Afghanistan...." Well, considering that the democratically-elected Kharzai regime has asked the US in particular (http://articles.philly.com/2011-11-17/news/30410396_1_night-raids-afghans-confidence-afghan-security-forces) and NATO in general (http://www.vancouversun.com/news/canada-in-afghanistan/Karzai+asks+extended+NATO+help/5811697/story.html) to remain in Afghansitan to help protect civillians against the Taleban and AQ, I'd say they'd be happy with new tech that should help in the stopping of such daily attacks as roadside bombs. Which, by the way, kill far more Afghani civillians than Afhgan troops or NATO soldiers (quote: ".....In the first half of the year, 1,462 Afghan civilians died, a 15% increase from the same period in 2010, according to United Nations statistics, with four-fifths of the deaths caused by the Taliban....", http://articles.latimes.com/2011/aug/19/world/la-fg-afghan-violence-20110819). I'd say the average Afghani would be happy at the news, even if ignorant posters here aren't.

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Facepalm

Vidkun Quisling (CBE) was equally democratically elected ... by Hitler

... and the NATO-puppet Karzai will naturally suffer an equivalent fate once his involuntary 'countrymen' lay their mitts on him.

Perhaps they'll even be jolly sporting old chaps and pin a posthumous gong on his pine jacket?

For sure, because if there's one thing those Afghans just LOVE, it's cricket and serving empires! No, two things ... there's TWO things Afghans just love ... cricket, serving empires and occupation troops ... wait, I'll come in again ... the THREE main things ... etc., etc.

As for 'requests', what else can this doped-up Circus Freak do but stay on both knees piteously begging his warcriminal sponsors to not abandon him to a last supper of just desserts? His wild dream is clinging to a skid on that final chopper.

~~~~

Bomber Bryant ~ the kinda genius who thinks catching the cluetrain means standing on the tracks intensely reciting propaganda mantras until it runs over him. Hence, D'oh!

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Anonymous Coward

@Matt Bryant

FTR, the US & NATO is definitely not in Afgjanistan to protect the civilians. And even if they were, by your own acknowledgement, they're doing a pretty expletive-deleted poor job of it.

And BTW, you really don't need to insult people who happen to have a different opinion to you.

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FAIL

RE: Vidkun Quisling (CBE) was equally democratically elected ... by Hitler

As usual, when Knobless Brittle can't disprove posts that blow big holes in the male bovine manure that he and his fellow sheeple post here, all we get is the rambling rubbish you'd expect one of Robert Mugabe's speechwriters to come up with.

Come on, Knobless, please do post any reputable website that can refute the simple facts posted, i.e., the vast majority of Afghanis are kiled by the Taleban. Not holding my breath on that one, I'm too busy laughing at you.

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Facepalm

RE: @Matt Bryant

"FTR, the US & NATO is definitely not in Afgjanistan to protect the civilians....." Depends which civillians you mean. The original mandate for the invasion of Afghanistan was to clean out the AQ elements being given shelter and assistance by the Taleban authorities. So that's protecting the civillians in most Western, African, Middle Eastern and many Asian countries. The ongoing mission after the end of the initial invasion has been to implement a peaceful civillian administration that can stand on its own two feet, i.e. protecting the local civillians.

I hope you're not suppoirting Knobless's hilarious attempts to compare Kharzai to Quisling? From the Wikipeadia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamid_Karzai:

"....After the 2004 presidential election, Karzai was declared winner and became President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. He won a second five-year-term in the 2009 presidential election....." Quisling was never elected, he siezed power in Norway in 1940 in co-operation with the Nazi invaders.

The overwhelming majority of the Afghan population don't want the Taleban back, which is why the Taleban don't bother participating in democratic elections. If all they wanted was for NATO to leave then all the Taleban would have to do is stop the violence, agree to participate in the democratic elections, and pitch their piece to the Afghan peoples. The problem for the Taleban is they know they could never win an election, hence they have no interest in the democratic process, hence their continued campaign of violence.

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Ceiling

30000 feet seems rather high!

Anyone care to give a estimate of the highest a helicopter can reach?

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Re:30000 feet seems rather high

The world record seems to be ~12500m or ~40000ft.

Here in Switzerland Air Zermatt helicopters routinely haul loads of concrete etc. to ~3500m + (~11500ft)

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Anonymous Coward

how high

Well, from my understanding its typically around 15-25k feet depending on weight, blades and engine, of course thats if its moving forward, to actually hover its much less, typically about 13-17k feet, id imagine that there is a significant weight reduction for a drone not having to hold humans an all the gubbins to keep them alive that high so perhaps its higher.

Its not so much about power at that height, its more to do with air density, its rather thin up there so you can slap a blade about as much as you like, if there isnt any air then it aint going to work.

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Anonymous Coward

Eine Neue Wunderwaffe, mein Führer !

That one will surely turn the tide against the Taleban. Surely they won't behead Mr Karzai the day the last US soldier leaves Kabul. I am absolutely positive !

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Is it not possible to let the drone self explode - say, on failing to receive a sort of watchdog timer - or am i being too simple minded

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Facepalm

Yes, but is the feed encrypted this time?

...'cause with the last drone-thingy, anyone could see the surveillance feed using a modified pocket TV!

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Special Request

Dear USAF,

Please can I borrow one for a day?

In summer if possible.

A new neighbour wants me to check her rooftop sun lounge is free of insurgent activity.

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