AFRL played a key role in the deployment of the High Altitude Lidar Operational Experiment (HALOE) system to the Afghanistan AOR. (AFRL Image)
AFRL expertise was key in the successful development, testing and deployment of the High Altitude Lidar Operational Experiment (HALOE) system to the Afghanistan area of responsibility. (AFRL Image)
AFRL Plays Pivotal Role In Response To Urgent Operational Need In Afghanistan

by Beverley Thompson

11/22/2011 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- In response to an urgent operational need for hi-resolution 3D data, the Air Force Research Laboratory partnered with Northrup Grumman, John's Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab and NASA, to develop, test, and deploy the High Altitude Lidar Operational Experiment (HALOE) system to the Afghanistan area of responsibility (AOR). AFRL played a key role in the over 10- year development of the Geiger Mode Avalanche Photo-Diode focal plane array, the enabling technology that made this system possible. The unprecedented sensitivity, accuracy and speed of this array allowed in flight mapping operations at ranges, scan rates and altitudes several orders of magnitude greater than anything currently fielded today. While DARPA funded system development and the initial deployment during first quarter of FY-11, ultimately it was the success of the effort that led to an Army Geo-Spatial Center request and funding for the system to remain in theater for an additional 180 days to continue the res 3D mapping mission.

AFRL personnel played a key role throughout the effort, providing technical expertise to characterize system performance and assess system readiness to deploy. Ultimately two AFRL personnel deployed with the system to act as the mission lead. These personnel acted as the single point of contact to coordinate all aspects of the mission from tasking to dissemination of the exploited data products to the warfighting customer. AFRL personnel regularly coordinated with CENTCOM, International Security Assistance Force Joint Command and the various Afghanistan Regional Commands to optimize collection requests and ensure finished intelligence products were delivered on time to meet operational needs. While deployed, the team flew over 550 operational flight hours in 140 sorties while collecting over 55,000 square kilometers of data at an unprecedented 20cm resolution. Working closely with both onsite and geo-graphically separated exploitation teams, HALOE answered over 200 requests for information. Exploited HALOE data has directly supported operations against high value individuals and ongoing combat operations through the characterization of compounds, helicopter landing zone, traffic ability and line of sight analysis.