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Afghanistan: 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.

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.

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.