ScanEagle + ShotSpotter = Sniper Spotter
In 1996, the ShotSpotter Gunshot Location System was combined with ESRI’s GIS and other software to dramatically improve the understanding police had when arriving at gunfire scenes in Redwood City, California – and dramatically reduce gunfire incidents. By 2006, it was deployed in Iraq on vehicles and even PDA-sized devices worn by soldiers. Now a US Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) experiment during the December 2004 Training in Urban Environment Exercise (TRUEX) is headed for the front lines, as ShotSpotter is being paired with Boeing’s ScanEagle UAVs. The 820th Security Forces Group at Moody AFB, GA will conduct the user evaluation and training beginning in March 2007, then match the equipment with a deploying squadron.
Originally developed to spot tuna schools for fishermen, the Insitu/Boeing ScanEagles can remain aloft for 20 hours at a stretch, operating autonomously or under human control. They have logged over 27,000 combat hours, earning kudos from the US Marines and US Navy; are being modified by the US DTRA to detect chemical/biological weapons; and are being combat-trialed with the Australian Defence Forces. Now they will serve the US Air Force as well via the Ground Situational Awareness Toolkit (GSAT). Anti-sniper tools have been an important but largely-unheralded spinout from the current phase of the war, and GSAT joins several other anti-sniper technologies in theater.
Under GSAT, ShotSpotter acoustic sensors on patrolling Airmen and Humvees will detect the location of enemy muzzle blasts and, in some cases, the path of the fired projectiles. This information is then passed to on-the-ground commanders for analysis and shared with an overhead Scan Eagle, which directs its advanced cameras to the area and gives a picture of the enemy’s location. While the release doesn’t say this, ScanEagle is GPS-enabled and an application similar to the one used to such effect in Redwood City is very possible. See Boeing release | USAF release.