The Multipurpose Security and Surveillance Mission Platform (MSSMP), started in FY'92 as the Air-Mobile Ground Security and Surveillance System (AMGSSS), is designed to provide a rapidly deployable, extended-range surveillance capability for a variety of operations and missions, including: fire control, force protection, tactical security, support to counterdrug and border patrol operations, signal/communications relays, detection and assessment of barriers (i.e., mine fields, tank traps), remote assessment of suspected contaminated areas (i.e., chemical, biological, and nuclear), and even resupply of small quantities of critical items. The MSSMP system consists of three air-mobile remote sensing packages and a base station.
MSSMP system requirements include:
- High mobility,
- Remote operations over low-bandwith tactical radio links,
- Long-endurance surveillance capabilities, and
- The ability for one operator to supervise several remote systems.
The MSSMP sensor packages may operate as portable stand-alone units, or from air-mobile platforms. The current design of the air-mobile platforms is based on the Sikorsky Cypher enclosed-rotor vertical-take-off-and-landing unmanned air vehicle. This air-mobile platform carries its sensor package from one ground surveillance location to another, up to 10 km from the base station.
Each sensor package is mounted on a pan-and-tilt unit, and includes:
- Visible light video camera
- Infrared video camera
- Laser range finder
- In addition, a link is provided for an optional portable acoustic sensor.
To keep radio activities to a minimum, most sensor processing is performed by the remote payload. Acoustic and visual motion detection is used to detect, identify, and locate targets of interests. Preprogrammed responses are activated upon detection and may include only an alert to the operator, or automatic transfer of a static image, laser range or an image stream.
For the prototype unit, the operator's control display station is a laptop computer running a graphical Windows program. All commands to the remote sensors are initiated using the built-in keyboard and pointing device. All data and images sent back are displayed on the laptop's color monitor. Communication between all remote payload subsystems and the control/display station uses a fully connected Ethernet TCP/IP radio network with autorelaying capability.
A portable mission payload prototype package was developed by a team of SSC engineers and scientists, and an additional payload package was integrated onto the Cypher vehicle by Sikorsky and SSC engineers. In May 1996, the system was successfully demonstrated at the Military Police School at Ft. McClellan, AL, in a simulated counter-drug operation. The man-portable sensor package mounted on a ground vehicle-of-opportunity and the Cypher-mounted sensor package were operated simultaneously over the same radio network.
In January 1997, the MSSMP system's expanded role was demonstrated in a Military Operations in Urban Terrain scenario at the Dismounted Battlespace Battle Laboratory, Ft. Benning, Georgia. The system demonstrated reconnaissance support with the vehicle flying down city streets, looking through upper- and lower-story windows, providing lookout support ahead of advancing troops, and performing observations after landing on the roof of a two story building. The vehicle also dropped a simulated radio relay on the top of a building, a miniature intrusion detector in an open field, and carried a standard Army laser rangefinder/designator as a payload.
In the second half of 1997, MSSMP spawned another project, MPNSS, focusing on developing ruggedized man-portable sensor packages using the same wireless network architecture.