Rapid Eye

Global Strike Logo

To enable the USA to project power on a global basis, without having to first obtain overflight rights from various foreign countries, the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are exploring a number of advanced concepts, including the hypersonic FALCON, enabling high-value targets anywhere in the world to be attacked within two hours. However, before a target can be attacked it must first be clearly identified and this has lead to research into the possibility of delivering a completely new concept of obtaining ISR data at short notice to support the Global Strike concept.

Another new-start technology demonstration programme recently launched by DARPA is the Rapid Eye system, which if successful, would be capable of providing high-resolution surveillance and reconnaissance imagery of potential targets anywhere on the planet within one hour. The Rapid Eye system proposes using a folding or inflatable-wing high altitude long-endurance UAV that is deployed by an intercontinental ballistic missile or a commercial launch system. The UAV would be contained within a re-entry vehicle to protect it during the rapid deceleration phase of entering the atmosphere, then it would have to slow further and allow time for the UAV to re-configure itself before separation, allowing the UAV to take up station at 50,000 60,000ft where it would remain for up to seven to fifteen hours. The concept calls for the UAV to be capable of carrying a 500lb payload and be capable of providing 5-kilowatts of power to power on-board sensors that could include a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), a Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI) and high bandwidth communications and electro-optical sensors.