Wireds Danger Room reports that the much touted Gorgon stare does not work. This story is likely to run and run as the Gorgon Stare was also due to be fitted to the Blue Devil blimp. Perhaps it will work better when flying slower.
In a draft report dated Dec. 30 and obtained by rogue military analyst Winslow Wheeler, the 53rd Wing at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida declared Gorgon Stare “not operationally effective” and “not operationally suitable.” Alleged problems include poor-quality video, glitches in the process for downloading video streams, and a small problem of the drone blinding itself with a laser.
This is bad. Real bad. The Air Force is counting on Gorgon Stare to help its squadrons in Afghanistan meet “insatiable” demand for overhead full-motion video.
Paul Mc Cleary at Aviation Week picks up on the story.
Despite boasts to the contrary, a document leaked by InsideDefense today reveals that Air Force testers drafted a memo dated December 30, 2010, offering a “DO NOT field recommendation” for the system.
In tests that began in October 2010, the Air Force “evaluated the adequacy and operational effectiveness and suitability of the GS weapon system.” After conducting seven sorties totaling 64 flight hours, the team “identified a Category I deficiency that rendered imagery unusable (excessive “stare-point wander”).”
Then in November, the Air Force began flying 20 more sorties—totaling 234 flight hours—that wrapped up on December 23rd. The overall assessment? “The [Gorgon Stare Wide-Area Airborne Surveillance] system is not operationally effective and not operationally suitable. The GS system, as tested, has significant limitations that degrade its operational utility including deficient IR performance, numerous [remote video terminal] interoperability problems, unpredictable system reliability/stability, and lack of system documentation.” The unit doing the testing also found that the “imagery quality is relatively poor, which yields marginal mission capability at night.”
LA Times added this interesting snippet
Maintenance and reliability problems also plagued the testing. Overall, the system was available only 64% of the time, the report said, and would require “prohibitive” maintenance and upkeep.
In a statement Monday, the Air Force said that a final version of the report was completed this month and that it was working to resolve problems with the system.
“This is a very advanced technology the Air Force is developing rapidly to meet warfighter requirements,” the statement said. The system “would not be fielded” until commanders in Afghanistan are satisfied it is ready, the statement said.