Lockheed Martin’s Dragon Series Taking Flight
In today's ever changing environment, the viability of having one aircraft to meet every needed intelligence gathering requirements is rare. Platform costs and mission requirements challenge the ability for a single platform to meet all needs, such as border surveillance, maritime patrol, or disaster relief missions. Recognizing this, Lockheed Martin introduced the Dragon family of ISR airborne and ground system configurations.
The Dragon family has five elements: Dragon Scout, Dragon Shield, Dragon Star, Dragon Stare, and Dragon Den, all of which offer sensor and communications systems and ground stations tailored to meet a customer’s specific mission needs and available budget. Lockheed Martin also offers any configuration as a contracted service under the NetDragon configurations.
“The Dragon family evolved from years of program success, augmented with extensive technical trade studies and real-world experimentation using our airborne multi-INT laboratory”, said Charles Gulledge, director of airborne reconnaissance business development with Lockheed Martin’s IS&GS-Defense. “For Dragon, we leveraged the innovation of the AML’s open hardware and software architecture into other offerings that meet the needs of our diverse customer set.”
The Dragon configurations define Lockheed Martin’s comprehensive ISR expertise in a broad catalogue of single and multi-purpose integrated air and ground intelligence platforms. Cost and capability varies and depends on what the customer prefers.
The AML falls within the Dragon Star category, which addresses requirements for mid range, multi-intelligence platforms such as the Gulfstream III, Havilland D-8 or Beech Craft B 350. Depending on the mission, these aircraft can be equipped with a variety of sensor combinations, multiple communications systems. Customers which Lockheed Martin provides Dragon Star configurations include the U.S. Army and the Royal Korean Air Force.
Dragon Shield sensor systems are built into trailer-like containers integrated onto standard cargo pallets that can be rolled on and off aircraft. To provide Dragon shield, the team leveraged expertise configuring C-130 and CASA-295 aircraft into dual-role ISR aircraft, which Lockheed Martin provides to both the U.S. and Finnish Air Forces.
“The Dragon Shield configuration is a cost efficient option for customers who need an aircraft that can perform multiple missions, such as airlift and ISR,” added Gulledge.
The Dragon Stare configuration is focused on providing sensor systems for smaller manned and unmanned aircraft, as well as podded systems. Sensor configurations are based on user needs, and as other systems are include net-centric capable for Joint and Coalition interoperability
For customers who already own aircraft for ISR missions, Dragon Den fixed or mobile ISR ground processing stations offers a way to process and exploit collected intelligence faster and with greater accuracy. Available in sizes from a transit case to a complete ground station, Dragon Den ground systems can also be fully integrated with customer aircraft. Dragon Den builds upon Lockheed Martin’s decades of expertise processing and distributing ISR for the U.S. Air Force and other customers.
For those who need a high altitude system with a complete suite of ISR sensors and communications, there is Dragon Scout. Fashioned for larger, longer range aircraft platforms, Dragon Scout provides a complete multi-Intelligence configured platform that can cover large areas of interest and be completely interoperable with national, NATO and coalition forces.
“Depending on the aircraft and the modifications selected, Dragon Family of system can be provided in as little as 3 months up to 30 months,” said Gulledge. “The Dragon family allows us to provide customers the capability they need, in the airframe they select, when they need it.”
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