(Senior) Scout’s Honor
This Intelligence Command Center Has Been Flying High for Two Decades
In 1991, as U.S. forces prepared for Operation Desert Storm, the Air Force was busy preparing to debut a new airborne intelligence system. Aircrew operators rolled a giant gray metal box – one that looked like a railroad freight car or a shipping container – out onto a runway, where a specially-modified C-130 was waiting. The container fit snugly into the Hercules’ cargo deck and quietly came to life.
Inside that plain-looking metal box was one of the most sophisticated tactical intelligence command centers on the planet. Holding a small team of analysts and packed to the gills with special computers, antenna, sensors and processors, the box turned a C-130 into an airborne intelligence cell, capable of harvesting an ocean of critical information about the adversary, and then sharing that information with allied troops across the battlefield.
Senior Scout, as the container was called, started as a research project in Lockheed Martin’s Aeronautics division in 1986. Just five years later, it would be called into service during Operation Desert Storm. A suite of signals intelligence (SIGINT) technology built into a trailer-like unit and loaded onto a C-130 aircraft, Senior Scout allowed the United States Air Force to collect information on enemy tactical forces and quickly disseminate that information to allies in the field. Data that once took weeks to reach soldiers, marines and sailors was now available in a matter of hours.
With the airframe built and with a proven track record, Senior Scout was a success. As the importance – and complexity – of airborne ISR grew, the team recognized that connecting Senior Scout with Lockheed Martin’s broad portfolio of sensor and intelligence processing technologies would help the system continue to grow and mature. Over a 12-month period in 2001 and 2002, Senior Scout moved to the Information Systems & Global Solutions (IS&GS) division, where it was further integrated with an expanding array of sensors, communications networks and ground systems.
Leveraging the expertise gained from Senior Scout, Lockheed Martin offers these type of configurations to customers as part of the DRAGON series of airborne and ground-based system configurations of ISR system solutions. Senior Scout is one example of Dragon Shield, a roll on/roll off mission suite that can be transported by different aircraft. Other examples of the DRAGON series include Dragon Stare, a configuration of sensor systems built directly into an aircraft, and Dragon Den, ground-based processing units that take in and interpret intelligence.
- Senior Scout turned a C-130 into an airborne intelligence cell, capable of harvesting an ocean of critical information about the adversary, and then sharing that information with allied troops across the battlefield.
- Leveraging the expertise gained from Senior Scout, the DRAGON series of airborne and ground-based system configurations offers ISR system solutions.