It is estimated that in excess of 10 million acres of land in the continental United States may be affected by unexploded ordnance (UXO). Prior ESTCP- and SERDP-funded projects developed state-of-the-art vehicular towed arrays (the Multi-Sensor Towed Array Detection System, known as MTADS) for large-scale UXO geophysical surveys. This project developed an airborne analog of the vehicular MTADS that will permit surveys of areas that are not conducive to vehicular towed arrays or that require large areas to be non-intrusively surveyed.

Technology Description

The MTADS has successfully demonstrated the ability to integrate state-of-the-art sensors with satellite-based navigation for accurate and efficient data acquisition. In addition, a suite of data analysis utilities has been developed that permits rapid data manipulation and target analysis. The integration of proven data acquisition and navigation systems with aeromagnetic compensation technologies permits this system to detect and classify targets over large areas and areas not amenable to vehicular surveys.

Demonstration Results

The first demonstration was conducted at the Badlands Bombing Range in South Dakota that had sparse densities of fairly large targets and relatively benign geology. The airborne system's performance was evaluated against the vehicular MTADS in a 110-acre survey. The vehicular and airborne systems' ordnance detection capabilities were indistinguishable, although the ability to distinguish ordnance from clutter was more limited for the airborne platform. The Airborne MTADS production rates were nearly 500 acres per day.

The second demonstration took place at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland on benign areas as well as sites containing trees and brush, wetlands, freshwater ponds, and marine offshore areas. Detection of ordnance was difficult in the ponds but straightforward in the offshore areas populated by larger targets. The Airborne MTADS production rate on these small sites was roughly 35 acres per hour.

The third demonstration was conducted at the Isleta Pueblo in New Mexico. The site had a relatively high density of metallic clutter and significant geological interference. The vehicular survey detection capability for the seeded targets was better than that of the airborne system, which detected 75% of items 81-millimeter and larger. The Airborne MTADS production rate on this desert range approached 50 acres per hour.

Naval Research Laboratory has entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Sky Research Inc. to provide wide area characterization services in support of the Department of Defense's mission and facilitate transfer to the private sector of the helicopter-based MTADS.

Implementation Issues

The Airborne MTADS has proven to be an efficient and highly reliable survey platform to conduct UXO geophysical investigations. The most significant benefit of this effort will be the ability to conduct accurate wide area digitally referenced geophysical surveys permitting large expanses of land to be declared free of UXO contamination. The Airborne MTADS has demonstrated survey production rates up to 500 acres per day at a cost of $100 per acre. (Project Completed - 2005)