Pentagon’s Flying Saucer

The Multipurpose Security and Surveillance Mission Platform (MSSMP) was a pioneering aerial surveillance system that was flown from 1992 to 1998. Developed by a team of engineers and scientists at a government research facility, the MSSMP was designed to provide real-time monitoring and surveillance capabilities in various security and defense applications.

The MSSMP was a versatile and modular platform that could be adapted to different mission requirements. It consisted of a modified aircraft fitted with an array of sensors, cameras, and communication equipment. The primary objective of the platform was to gather and transmit data in real-time, enabling security personnel to make informed decisions and respond effectively to potential threats.

It used a ducted fan and a 50 hp engine to “cruise at speeds of up to 80 knots, for up to three hours, with a ceiling of 8,000 feet,” according to Helicopters.com. Weighing 250 pounds with a diameter of six feet, the MSSMP was meant to “provide a rapidly deployable, extended-range surveillance capability for a variety of operations and missions, including: fire control, force protection, tactical security, support to counterdrug and border patrol operations, signal/communications relays, detection and assessment of barriers (i.e., mine fields, tank traps), remote assessment of suspected contaminated areas (i.e., chemical, biological, and nuclear), and even resupply of small quantities of critical items,” its makers at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center say.

One of the key features of the MSSMP was its ability to conduct surveillance over large areas. Equipped with high-resolution cameras and advanced imaging technology, the platform could capture detailed imagery of both urban and remote regions. Additionally, the MSSMP incorporated systems for night vision, infrared sensing, and radar, allowing it to operate efficiently in various lighting and weather conditions.

The MSSMP also had the capability to transmit data securely to command centers or ground-based receivers. This enabled security operators to continuously monitor the situation, analyze the data, and respond accordingly. The system was compatible with both satellite and ground-based communication systems, ensuring the seamless transmission of information in near real-time.

During its operational lifespan, the MSSMP was used in various security and defense applications. It was particularly effective in border surveillance, drug interdiction operations, and disaster response missions. The system’s ability to cover large areas quickly and efficiently significantly enhanced the capabilities of security forces.

However, the MSSMP had its limitations. Its operational cost and maintenance requirements were high, limiting its widespread adoption. Additionally, advancements in satellite imaging technology presented viable alternatives that were more cost-effective and versatile.

As a result, the MSSMP was gradually phased out of service by the late 1990s. Nevertheless, the platform’s legacy lived on, having contributed to the development of subsequent generations of aerial surveillance systems. Today, advanced aerial surveillance platforms continue to play a critical role in security and defense operations worldwide.

Clayton Asloman

Clayton was born in South Africa and he became a part-time reporter with News i8 in the 2023, years later.

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1 comment

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