Northrop lands mine deal

The Naval Surface Warfare Center-Dahlgren Division has awarded a contract to Northrop Grumman Corp. for a system that will help detect enemy land mines.

The $44.7 million award for the Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA) system is the culmination of seven years of research into how the system could detect the mines, said Ken Davis, COBRA system engineer.

The system, which could be deployed within five years, will enable soldiers to conduct operations without being concerned about land mines, he said. The system will give a commander additional flexibility to carry out missions with less risk to personnel.

COBRA will use a multispectral or a hyper.spectral imaging sensor system deployed in an unmanned aerial drone that will fly over an area. That sensor is designed to filter certain parts of the spectrum, similar to the way a filter on a camera lens works, thereby highlighting mines, Davis said. That data would be transmitted to a system that would overlay the sites of any potential mines onto maps, enabling an operator to determine whether the objects could be mines.

The Naval Surface Warfare Center's Coastal Systems Station in Panama City, Fla., has been conducting an Advanced Technology Demonstration project since 1994 to determine if the sensors could highlight mines, he said. The contract award is a significant step in moving the proj.ect toward deployment.

The most difficult task was creating a process to distinguish the mines from rocks and other such items, Davis said. The system also has to be able to work in various environments, such as on a beach or in grassy areas.

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine,, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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