Vision analytics aids reconnaissance for Australian troops in Afghanistan

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Australian Defence Force (ADF) commanders in Afghanistan are using the Kestrel Land MTI computer vision system from Sentient to analyse intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) imagery from Heron Unmanned Ariel Systems (UAS). Heron UAS are operated by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in Afghanistan under Project Nankeen.

The software processes the imagery in real time, automatically detecting and tracking small, moving targets such as dismounts and vehicles within the sensors' field of view.

WGCDR David Riddel, RAAF deputy director, air combat capability and project lead for Nankeen, sees in Kestrel Land MTI a significant ISR capability enhancement, extending the Heron's ability to provide situational awareness for Australian and Coalition forces on the ground.

'Kestrel detects any small movements in the field of view and alerts our operators to targets that are easily missed - camouflaged vehicles in tough terrains, dismounts or squirters leaving houses,' Riddel said. 'This gives our commanders a complete understanding of the situation on the ground.'

Riddel stresses the benefits of Kestrel Land MTI for long ISR missions, increasing productivity through consistent, reliable detections.' Especially over long periods of observations, Kestrel has been proven to be very valuable. It helps fatigued observers by drawing their attention to targets outside their actual field of vision.'

Kestrel's ability to detect very small moving targets less than a few pixels in size, allows the ADF to operate the Heron at a wider field of view, extending the area of observation.

'Kestrel acts as a force multiplier, allowing us to increase our area of coverage,' Riddel pointed out. 'As a result, commanders will be aware of potential threats to ADF operations earlier and will be able to respond more quickly and with more effect.'

The RAAF operates the Heron and Kestrel Land MTI out of Kandahar, conducting ISR missions which include IED search, overwatch, and battle damage assessment. Kestrel Land MTI was developed by Sentient as a part of the Capability and Technology Demonstrator programme, managed by the Australian Defence Science and Technology Organisation.