Homeland Protection Support/ERSA

VWS - Visual warning systemFigure 1: The Visual Warning System (VWS). Cameras are used to aim the VWS, and red and green lights are used to warn pilots violating the restricted airspace around Washington, DC.

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States Air Force Rapid Capability Office tasked Lincoln Laboratory with developing an integrated sensing and decision support system to enhance the situation awareness of decision makers responsible for protecting and responding to attacks from the complex airspace surrounding the National Capitol Region (NCR). The result of this effort is the Enhanced Regional Situation Awareness (ERSA) system.

The ERSA system improves four major air defense elements: airspace surveillance, threat assessment and decision support, distribution of a common air picture to multiple agencies and new ways to respond to aircraft violating the NCR.

Improved aircraft surveillance and a means for integrating the information available from government and non-government databases are combined into a common air picture that automatically detects and highlights aircraft behaving in a suspicious manner. The Visible Warning System (VWS) (Figure 1) provides a means for quickly and effectively sending a warning to pilots of aircraft violating NCR airspace restrictions, thus reducing the delays and confusion sometimes incurred during radio communication.

Collaborative Effort

The Homeland Protection Mission area teamed with many other parts of Lincoln Laboratory to produce the ERSA system. Our staff designed, developed, built and deployed the many elements of the ERSA system, including the display software, the sensor control software, the human factors design, the messaging services, the flight plan correlation, and the weather subsystem. We also had a significant role in system engineering, program management, system administration, and hardware deployment.

Continuing Efforts

Utilizing a testbed that was built during the ERSA development, additional new technologies are being tested that includes new technologies and replacement components integration and functional validation and new software architectures.  The new software architectures enable rapid development of new applications and uses for the underlying fusion and decision support technology.

top of page