Flying Into Bagram? Soon Worry Less About Birds

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It's likely not a top concern for pilots, but it ranks among them, and so Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, is slated to receive the first bird radar system deployed in a war zone, DeTect Inc., maker of the MERLIN Bird Radar system, announced last week. By the end of 2009, the system is set to be deployed and operational, providing real-time 3-D hazardous bird activity monitoring through 360 degrees of airspace out to 8 miles. What the system detects, it then provides as automated warnings to controllers and pilots. DeTect originally developed its system for the Air Force and NASA and now has more than 50 mobile units operating in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Africa and New Zealand, both for aviation safety and bird control applications. The U.S. Air Force actually purchased its first MERLIN radar system in 2003 and now has six systems installed at its facilities in the U.S. Aside from its "first" status, the Bagram system is something a little bit special.

Thanks to its working environment, the mobile military version of the MERLIN bird-detection system includes multiple dual-redundant systems, Kevlar-reinforced structures and "Milspec off-road construction," according to DeTect. The company claims its less-militarized versions have found enough peaceful applications to make the MERLN system the "most widely used bird radar technology in the world."