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Friday, March 31, 2006

Fort Wayne Air Guardsman Quoted Regarding TARS

That would be the Theater Airborne Reconnaissance System (TARS pod) on Air National Guard F-16's. Its use is described as "provide high-quality still imagery to ground commanders to help them achieve their tactical objectives."

This is from a release prepared by Major John S. Hutcheson of the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing. He writes:
"Many of the images being used by the ground guys for mission planning are Falcon View satellite images that are often dated," said Lt. Col. Kerry Gentry, commander of the 332nd and member of the New Jersey Air National Guard. "A lot can change over time in terms of new construction of buildings and roads. We can provide our JTACs and other ground forces up-to-date, high-resolution images they need to execute their missions."

Just how good is the resolution? The TARS pod is the equivalent of a 36-megapixel camera, said Staff Sgt. Jeremy Fisher, 332nd Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and a guardsman from the 122nd Fighter Wing in Fort Wayne, Ind.

To put that in perspective, most handheld digital cameras range between two and five megapixels. The resolution of the TARS images, however, is only one of its advantages.
"The camera in the TARS pod has the ability to rotate in order to shoot at angles you can't get any other way from the air -- doorways, windows, sides of buildings," said Tech. Sgt. Stephen Holt, noncommissioned officer in charge of imagery operations with the 332nd EFS. "This type of imagery of entry and exit points can be invaluable to a ground commander planning a raid on a house or other building."

"TARS"- not to be confused with Teenage Republicans (TARS)
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