Lockheed Martin to trial Sentient’s ViDAR ISR system aboard MH-60R helicopter

Published on: October 2021

Lockheed Martin to trial Sentient’s ViDAR ISR system aboard MH-60R helicopter

An innovative Australian-developed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) system will be trialled aboard the Seahawk naval helicopter by manufacturer Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company.

The ViDAR (Visual Detection and Ranging) system was developed by Australian company Sentient Vision Systems in Melbourne, Australia. ViDAR is a persistent wide area imaging system based on software designed to autonomously detect, geo-locate, track and classify objects over vast areas of sea and terrain below an aircraft or UAS.

Lockheed Martin will demonstrate ViDAR’s capabilities for potential use aboard the MH-60R and MH-60S Seahawk helicopters.

ViDAR employs Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning to detect and classify targets in the imagery stream from an Electro-Optic or Infrared (EO/IR) sensor that would be invisible to a human operator or very hard to spot. It can cover a designated search area up to 30 times faster than an aircraft without ViDAR.

Helicopter prime contractor and mission system integrator Lockheed Martin has integrated some top-level aspects of ViDAR in an MH-60R as a prototype fit to demonstratethis cutting-edge Australian capability.

Lockheed Martin will work with Sentient to explore and further evolve the capability of the ViDAR system. A successful trial could see this Australian ISR system integrated with the sensor suite on the MH-60R Seahawk, which is also operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

Joe North, Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand, said Sentient’s cutting-edge ViDAR system illustrates the strength and resilience of Australia’s sovereign defence industry capability which underpins Lockheed Martin’s approach to growing Australian sovereign industrial capability.

“Lockheed Martin Australia’s approach of incubating innovation and growing SME capability is helping to create the conditions and the opportunities to build both capability and operational resilience needed for companies like Sentient to be able to compete on the world stage, and in this case with the world’s most advanced maritime helicopter.”

“Sentient Vision Systems is a global leader in ISR technology solutions and we are proud to have had a long association, initially through R&D integration and testing of their Kestrel detection software for future rotary wing capability and potentially now with ViDAR as well,” Mr. North added.

Paul Boxer, Managing Director of Sentient Vision Systems, welcomed Lockheed Martin’s decision to explore the potential for the ViDAR system. And he reaffirmed the critical importance of such industry partnerships to realising global export opportunities for Australian industry.

“We are excited about the potential for ViDAR to be integrated with sensor suites across Lockheed Martin’s MH-60R Seahawk platforms globally as this represents a significant opportunity for Sentient.”

“We look forward to working closely with their engineers to complete the testing, development and integration validation phases for the system,” he said. “Australia has world-class innovators, but it is through partnerships with global technology companies like Lockheed Martin that Australian industry can realise global export opportunities for cutting-edge solutions.”

Sentient Vision Systems is a global leader in ISR technology solutions. Its Kestrel detection software was used by the RAAF aboard its Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion patrol aircraft in the Middle East and has been successfully integrated in the MH-60R Software Integration Lab for future MH-60R capability enhancements.

The ViDAR testing, development and integration validation program has seen teams from Sentient and Lockheed Martin in Australia and around the world develop a tailored solution to enhance the capabilities of the MH-60R and MH-60S while also advancing Australian sovereign defence industry capability.

The world’s first Optical Radar, ViDAR is currently used by many agencies and forces including the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, Royal Australian Navy and the US Coast Guard for a broad range of search missions including search and rescue, illegal fishing, counter narcotics and maritime security.

For further information please contact:

Mr Ryan Ilahi

Marketing Manager

Sentient Vision Systems

Tel: +61 (0)450 457 729