ROVER, which stands for Remotely Operated Video Enhanced Receiver, is a system which allows ground forces, such as
Forward Air Controllers (FAC), to see what an aircraft or unmanned aerial vehicle(UAV) is seeing in real time by receiving images acquired by the aircraft's sensors on a laptop on the ground. There's no time delay and usage of ROVER greatly improves the FAC on the ground reconnaissance and target identification which are essential to close air support.
The initial ROVER system, ROVER I, was developed in 2002 to allow ground forces to view video feeds from Predator UAVs or AC-130 gunships. The interface was so large it was carried in a
HMMWV, but it avoided the long delay of having to call a distant UAV controller and ask what the aircraft was seeing. By fall of 2004, the system's size was reduced to that of a 12 lb device carried in a backpack. ROVER IV plans to include the capability to interface with a wide variety of aircraft and also allow interaction between ground controllers and close air support pilots. With ROVER III, ground controllers have to talk the pilot to the target since they only see the image the aircraft transmits. ROVER IV seeks to use GPS and other systems to allow the controller to click a target they would like the aircraft to engage or the UAV operator to focus on. ROVER is compatible with UAVs and aircraft carrying the LITENING targeting podas well as other targeting systems. [ James Dunnigan. [http://www.strategypage.com/dls/articles/200510130916.asp Soldier Demands Spur Development of New Gear] . October 13, 2005.]
US Navy usage
ROVER III capability was added to the F-14D Tomcat during its last deployment. It was first used by
VF-31and VF-213 on their last cruise with the F-14 Tomcatin 2005and 2006. Within days of the modification teams arrival on the USS "Theodore Roosevelt" (CVN-71) all F-14 Tomcats had complete ROVER capability. Before ROVER, ground controllers had to rely on "visual talk-ons" to hunt enemy ground forces and would use a map to guide pilots where they needed to go. A joint VF-31/VF-213 investigation revealed that it would be possible to modify the F-14D Super Tomcat with off-the-shelf technology for only $800 dollars per aircraft.
A team of F-14D experts from the
Naval Air Systems Command(NAVAIR) F-14 Program Office (PMA-241) staff at Naval Air Station Patuxent Riverwas presented with this idea in early November 2005 and were able to research, develop and field this technology within a six-week window. Northrop Grummanemployees from Naval Air Station Oceanaand members of the fleet support team from Naval Air Systems Command Depot at Naval Air Station Jacksonvilleperformed the aircraft modification.
F/A-18 Hornets from
VFA-25, VFA-113, VFA-22and VFA-115were also modified with ROVER capability for the first deployment of the USS "Ronald Reagan" in 2006. [ [http://www.news.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=24538 Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group Returns Following 6-Month Deployment] . July 6, 2006.]
LITENING targeting pod- LITENING II targeting pod is also usable with ROVER
* [http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=21377 ROVER System Revolutionizes F-14's Ground Support Capability]
* [http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123024416 ROVER adds extra set of eyes to sky] - Usage in Raven UAV
* [http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/2006/01/rover-sics-tacair-on-americas-enemies/index.php ROVER Sics TacAir on America's Enemies] - Discusses original ROVER usage in UAVs and targeting pods.
* [http://www.robins.af.mil/history/FY02/CH3.02.htm Warner Robins Air Logistics Center - FY2002 - High Technology] - Historical account of the rapid deployment of ROVER capability to AC-130's during Operation Enduring Freedom
* [http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-rover13sep13,0,263719,print.story?coll=la-home-center US Pilot Helped Clear the Fog of War] - LA Times account of how ROVER was championed and adopted by the various services in Iraq and Afghanistan
* [http://www.l-3com.com/csw/Product/docs/07-ROVER-III-Receiver.pdf ] - Product data sheet
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