Building on the success of Rampant Lion l, scientists from the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have completed Rampant Lion ll, a geophysical and remote sensing survey of Afghanistan. Rampant Lion ll took place from mid-April to mid-June 2008 with a significantly upgraded sensor suite. Where Rampant Lion l focused on collecting data that might aid in economic development, Rampant Lion ll had a dual focus - developing advanced geospatial collection and analysis techniques to support the warfighter and for economic infrastructure development. "The advanced multi-sensor technologies of Rampant Lion simultaneously supported coalition forces while advancing the economic future of Afghanistan by decades," explains NRL's Dr. John Brozena, chief scientist for Project Rampant Lion II.
In the Rampant Lion l survey, carried out in the summer of 2006, NRL and USGS scientists completed an integrated remote sensing survey of approximately 2/3 of the country of Afghanistan. Rampant Lion l was primarily funded by the Afghan government for gas, oil, and mineral exploration, and for civil infrastructure development. Afghanistan is a country rich in natural resources, such as copper, iron, metals, gemstones, oil, and natural gas, but without a comprehensive geological survey, these resources lie untapped. The data collected in Rampant Lion l are currently being used to help the Afghani government to exploit their substantial natural resources to build a stable economy and workforce, to build roads and develop civil infrastructure, and to sustain a prosperous economy that is a key to peace and stability in the region. Based on data collected during Rampant Lion l, large deposits of copper in Kabul and Kandahar provinces and iron in Bamiyan and Baghlan provinces were further mapped and geospatial data for infrastructure development to support industrial activity were collected. If Afghanistan's natural resources had been assessed in the traditional overland method, it would have taken years to collect the data that was gathered during Rampant Lion l in a matter of months.
For both Rampant Lion missions, NRL scientists designed the suite of sensors and managed their integration and operation on the aircraft. Rampant Lion l successfully demonstrated the integration and simultaneous operation of the largest suite of remote sensing equipment ever flown on a single aircraft, including Synthetic Aperture Radar, hyperspectral imaging, digital photogrammetry, and gravity and magnetic sensors. This type of airborne multisensor suite had never been employed before and is a one-of-a-kind NRL-developed and -operated system.
For Rampant Lion ll, the upgraded sensor suite included a digital photogrammetric camera upgraded to 39 MPixels, an increased spectral range of hyperspectral imaging from 0.4-1. Microns to 0.4-2.5 microns, the addition of a thermal imaging camera, and the addition of high-altitude scanning topographic LiDAR system.
Both Rampant Lion l and ll were flown aboard a uniquely configured NP-3D S&T aircraft operated by NRL's Scientific Development Squadron (VXS-1). The aircraft was specially modified for operation in a combat theater. During the two-month survey in 2006 and 2008, the aircraft, along with the military personnel and scientists, were stationed at Kandahar Air Base, Afghanistan.
Data from all the sensor systems was precisely co-registered to the ground by a combination of interferometric mode Global Positioning Systems and inertial measurements. The Rampant Lion missions have advanced the state of the art in integrated multi-sensor air-borne remote sensing. Despite the difficulties of integrating a large component of complex and diverse sensors, and operating in a combat environment, the aerogeophysical project is considered to be a complete success. The Navy flight and ground maintenance personnel safely completed 100% of desired missions with no mishaps or significant problems. In Rampant Lion ll, nearly 30 Tbytes of raw data were collected from the various systems, with no data lost to hardware or software problems over the course of almost 40 mission flights in a total of 335 flight hours. Analysis of the enormous data set will occupy scientists at numerous institutions for some time to come, but even at this stage, the contributions to operational support of the global war on terrorism and to advances in the state of the art in airborne remote sensing are substantial. Additionally, the environmental data collected from the suite of sensors is invaluable to the economic redevelopment of Afghanistan.
The Rampant Lion ll team was both multidisciplinary and multinational. Researchers from NRL's Marine Physics and Remote Sensing Division were part of the team, along with researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and Canadian Armed Forces. NRL's VXS-1, based at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, managed all of the deployment requirements including operations, flight planning and execution, maintenance, and logistics. VXS-1 is the only DOD squadron devoted completely to S&T. The Rampant Lion project marked the first time NRL scientists have deployed to a war zone since World War II.