Valiant Angel ships out for Afghanistan

Video management system will help ease sensor data overload

In less than two weeks troops in Afghanistan will receive a video management system known as Valiant Angel capable of moving massive amounts of still and video imagery gathered from unmanned aerial vehicles and other aircraft patrolling the mountainous country, reports Greg Grant at DOD Buzz.

The military desperately needs a system that can store vast amounts of data gathered daily. Indeed, the need is even more pressing as a result of the imagery now being compiled by wide-area surveillance (WAS) platforms such as the Army’s Constant Hawk and the Air Force’s Gorgon Stare, both of which carry large suites of cameras that photograph areas of up to four-by-four kilometers at two frames per second. Such aircraft can produce 7 terabytes of data each day from one aircraft, Air Force Col. Skip Krakie told reporters March 17.

The Valiant Angel system will undergo a 60-day assessment period after which additional equipment will be shipped in late summer, Krakie said. The Joint Forces Command awarded a team led by Lockheed Martin Corp. a $29 million contract last year to develop the video management system to help commanders manage, process and share full-motion video.

Valiant Angle doesn’t offer new technology. Instead, it bundles commercially available hardware and software into a system that troops can use to sift through massive volumes of digital data.

Here’s how it works: UAV video is fed into Valiant Angel hard drives and then made accessible to users, including those in remote locations, over the military’s Secret IP Router Network. Troops can then use JFCOM provided “Thick Client” software package to view video and images and discuss a video clip using instant messenger in a chat room. The software grabs that chat and embeds it into the video stream, along with important key words, thus allowing end users to search for relevant streams.

JFCOM is also developing a Web interface for users that might not have access to the software package. Video clips will also be tied to an interface similar to Google Earth so users can see where the UAV was scanning. Embedded in the software will be short instructional videos.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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