Apr 9, 2015
US Army To Acquire Six DHC-8 For Special Missions
Six aircraft will be delivered to the army by 17 July. The announcement did not specify how many of the six aircraft would be Saturn Arch and how many Desert Owl.
The DHC-8 is one of several platform types the US Army uses to conduct its Airborne Reconnaissance Low (ARL) mission.
In this ARL-E configuration the aircraft is kitted out with high-resolution electro-optical-infrared (EO/IR) imaging, digital mapping, and full motion video (FMV), as well as signals intelligence (SIGINT), communications intelligence (COMINT), foliage penetrating (FOPEN) radar, ground moving target indication/synthetic aperture radar (GMTI/SAR), dismount moving target indicator (DMTI), and ground penetrating (GPEN) radar equipment. Its six operator work stations will be Distributed Common Ground System - Army (DCGS-A) compliant.
Within this ARL-E mission, the Saturn Arch configuration is geared towards neutralising improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
Also first fielded in 2010, Desert Owl is an ISR capability to simultaneously conduct measurement and signature intelligence (MASINT) and imagery intelligence (IMINT) missions in near all-weather conditions.
While the DoD contract notification does not state where these Saturn Arch and Desert Owl platforms might be operated, likely theatres include Afghanistan , East Africa (Djibouti), and South Korea.