Oct 3, 2007

Angel Fire News

In contrast to the recent bee bumbling, "defeat the device" strategy for dealing with IEDs, LANL seems to have delivered the goods this time. A USA Today story on project Angel Fire describes a promising new system to help "defeat the operator".
In 2005, graduate students at the Air Force Institute of Technology in Ohio and scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratories developed Angel Fire for "persistent, city-sized surveillance," according to the institute's website. "By providing real-time imaging capabilities, IED and other threats … can be detected, prevented and/or negated. Angel Fire is particularly well-suited to provide enhanced situational awareness to forces operating in an urban environment, convoy operations or other ground operations."
Thanks and congratulations to Gary Stradling and the Angel Fire team!


Anonymous said...

I remember hearing about a project like this being run by LLNL over two years ago. Is this truly a LANL show, or is LANL just a part player of a multi-lab effort?

As big as this project is ($20 million), I haven't seen hide nor hair of it at LANL. Strange? They do mention Stradling's name in the article, though.

Eric said...

Does this detection work in real life? The city of London (the Economist or the Guardian a couple of weeks ago) said that this approach has not reduced crime in the U.K. nor has it led to the capture of more criminals in high crime areas.

Any answers here?

Pinky and The Brain said...

Angel Fire Project Team
Gary L. Stradling
Randy M. Burditt
Steve Bray
Jamie Charles
Daniel I. Cooper
Matthew B. Fair
Brian Halladay
John N. Horne
Kenneth P. Hurtle
David T. Kendrick
Keith Lash
Ben Lopez
Edith Madrid
Gail J. McFarlane
Taylor A. Powell
Eric R. Roach
James R. Sims
Larry L. Tellier
Inez Valdez

Anonymous said...


AFIT Graduate Research and Development Management Program

Improving IED Detection

Each year, the Research and Development Management Program runs a rapid product development project designed to teach
officers the skills and practices necessary to develop and demonstrate a product that meets an operational need. Students immerse
themselves for two weeks in the operational environment, then look for ways to rapidly apply emerging technologies to address the
sponsor’s needs. Students team and coordinate with appropriate users, organizations, laboratories, and companies to develop a
product rapidly but effectively. The 2005 class developed Project Angel Fire, an aerial camera and image distribution system that
takes city-sized images and distributes them to tens and hundreds of users. Sponsored by U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM)
with $1 million in funding, this project addressed the increasing improvised explosive ordnance (IED) detection need. Previous
projects have been sponsored by other operational units such as the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson AFB.

Project Angel Fire’s sub-title is “Wide Area Persistent Imaging of City Sized Area for Rapid Deployment to Theater”. It
is a USSTRATCOM sponsored - U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) supported project aimed at providing real time
tactical level situational awareness to commanders and soldiers in theater this year. We accomplish this aim by producing
intelligence sufficient to identify and track both people and vehicles using ultra large format digital 6 to 54 11-megapixel
camera arrays to collect town to city-sized images at 0.5 meter ground sampling distances.

Project Angel Fire’s system georectifies these images and can send them to anywhere from one to several hundred users in
real time using commercial wireless data links. The system records past data enabling a TiVo-like playback of any area of
the town at any sized image at full resolution. This rapid development effort has in six months demonstrated the capability
to provide real time tactical situational awareness to battle field commanders and soldiers in the field or at command posts.
It also provides the intelligence community the ability to develop longer term intelligence analysis of organizations’ social
networks by tracking and observing their interactions between different locations. Also during these first six months we have
developed two flying prototype systems and are working on a fully deployable and scaleable system. Portions of our project
are preparing to deploy to the Iraqi theater in support of the Army Mohawk Stare program.

Forty-one graduate students and four faculty members of the Research and Development Management Program, the
Operational Technology Certificate Program and the Systems Design and Management Program supported this project. To
date the Angel Fire project has received approximately $2.1M from the intelligence community and USSTRATCOM, and we
are leveraging significantly more resources through our partnering arrangements.

Anonymous said...

OMG, a useful WFO being done at LANL?

Bury it.

Kill it quick.

Load it up with tons of extra overhead expenses.

Congress doesn't allow us to do stuff like this!
This is not NNSA funding. This is not nuclear weapons.

I don't like the looks of this one bit.

-- Mikey

Anonymous said...

Comming soon to small town USA! Maybe we can use this technology to prevent imorral behavior in the bedroom. Hey, if you got nothing to hide, you got nothing to fear. Maybe LANL can also work on a drug sensing butt plug. Hey, if you got nothing to hide, you got nothing to worry about. Maybe Michele Espy's work on brain squids can be used to check for improper thoughts. Hey, if you got nothing to hide, you got nothing to worry about.

Pinky and The Brain said...

Coming soon to small town, USA! Live soldiers and marines with all their limbs! Maybe you can explain your paranoia to them.

Anonymous said...

The project is real and located at LANL. The team roster listed above has gone through some changes. Gary was requesting money from Nanos when I was there for the demonstation. This was after N. had left.
It was a pretty cool demo.

Anonymous said...

Awesome that LANL can pull something like this off. And be quiet about it at the same time.

Too bad about the other folks talking about on the web. This sort of thing should be kept quiet so that the bad guys don't know what hit them.

Anonymous said...

I heard that the development of Angel Fire was a real "against all odds" sort of saga, that has paid off big for the Marines.

Anonymous said...

Who did the technical work, LANL or AFIT? From the stuff I've read so far, it seems that most of the work was done over at AFIT by a large group of graduates and faculty. Is this true?

What part did LANL really have in all this effort? And why was the LANL side of this project run out of of place like PP-Sec (Program Project Division, Security Group)?

That's a weird place for a project like this one to have been located. PP-Sec mostly handles lab-wide facility building projects like RedNet expansion and handling the contracts to build the new Super Vault.

From the looks of the roster, the vast majority of the people listed on the project are either Elec/Mech Tecs or Admins, plus a few non-TSM Project Leaders out of PP-Sec. I see only about one TSM in the whole list. This, too, I find a bit strange.

Anyone know more about the story behind this project?

Anonymous said...

Angel Fire grew from a graduate research project within AFIT. A group of students (Majors and Captains) with the help and guidance of AFIT faculty, AFRL and other agencies and departments at WPAFB developed the idea from napkin to a working "system" within 8 mos.

From there we began to fine tune and further develop various aspects of the system. I was one of several members of the team who participated in the development process. The team of students comprised operators (pilots and space), engineers, communication, and acquisition officers. Working with AFRL, then DRAPA, LANL and others we were able to bring the working model even further along and into a working system suitable for military use.

The students and engineers from these various agencies participated in research with the Marine Corps and with various labs across the country. The remarkable aspect that many of you touch on is how all these different agencies joined together to build/deliver a better capability, quicker and no one...not the students nor the current staffs ever worried about the prestige or acknowledgements...we all just wanted to save lives. We knew we were on to something when we started and I’m proud to hear that organizations like LANLs continues to press ahead with this project and others like it given today’s tightening budgets and other constraints!

GO AFIT!!! ENV Class of 2005

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if this system or Constant Hawk (developed and ran by the Army) has MASINT capable sensors?


Kimberly Fischer said...

Hi folks--

The class of 2004 did the "proof of concept"; the major funding came in for the second class. We tested our single-camera version at LANL and in the surrounding community.

We had quite a mix of students, about half were full-time employees and the rest were full-time students.

Our instructor was LtCol Ross McNutt (AFIT), who worked with personnel at LANL.

Kimberly Fischer