Airborne Reconnaissance Low (ARL) is a self-deploying, multisensor, day and night, all-weather reconnaissance and intelligence system. It consists of a modified DeHavilland Canada (DHC)-7 fixed-wing aircraft equipped with communications intelligence and imagery intelligence (COMINT/IMINT), Ground Moving Target Indicator/Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), and electro-optical and infrared full-motion video capability. The payloads are controlled and operated via onboard open-architecture, multifunction workstations. Intelligence collected on the ARL can be analyzed, recorded and disseminated on the aircraft workstations in real time and stored onboard for post-mission processing.

The ARL system includes a variety of communications subsystems to support near-real-time dissemination of intelligence and dynamic retasking of the aircraft. It provides real-time down-link of Moving Target Indicator (MTI) data to the Common Ground Station at the Brigade Combat Team through echelon-above-corps level. Seven aircraft are configured as ARL-Multifunction (ARL-M), equipped with a combination of IMINT, COMINT and SAR/MTI payload and demonstrated hyperspectral imager applications and multi-intelligence data fusion capabilities.

The ARL systems currently hosted on DHC-7 airframes will soon be replaced by more capable DHC-8-315 airframes. By leveraging existing DHC-8 platforms currently used within operational Quick Reaction Capability programs, the Army will meet the recently approved Capability Production Document requirements with added aircraft performance capabilities.


ARL provides tactical commanders with day and night, near-all-weather, real-time airborne COMINT/IMINT collection and a designated area surveillance system. It can support collection requirements of Brigade Combat Teams and higher echelons across the full range of military operations, including coalition support processes.


  • Dual electro-optical Day and Night High-Definition Full
  • Motion Video Sensors with Laser Range Finding and Target Designation Capability
  • Tactical Signals and Communication Intelligence/Direction Finding Subsystems with Aerial Precision Geolocation and Theater Net-Centric Geolocation
  • Synthetic Aperture Radar and Ground-Moving Target Indicator Radar


  • 3QFY13: Workstation and Beyond-Line-of-Sight upgrades
  • FY13-FY14: Continue imagery, radar, COMINT, system interoperability, and workstation architecture upgrades
  • 3QFY14: ARL-Enhanced (ARL-E) Capability Production Document was approved
  • 3QFY15: Aircraft Survivability Equipment (ASE) and cockpit updates began
  • 4QFY15: Army Acquisition Executive redesignated ARL as ACAT II program with PEO Aviation as the Milestone Decision Authority (MDA) and ARL Payloads as ACAT III with PEO Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors as the MDA
  • 1QFY16: Project Manager, Sensor-Aerial Intelligence (PM SAI) awards Mission Equipment Package (MEP) contract for the ARL-E program; MEP integration will fulfill the ARL-E CPD sensor requirements


  • FY16: PM Fixed Wing (FW) delivers two ARL-E Cockpit/ASE modified aircraft for induction into the ARL-E MEP integration effort
  • FY17: PM FW delivers two ARL-E Cockpit/ASE modified aircraft for induction into the ARL-E MEP integration effort
  • FY18: PM SAI performs Systems Integration Laboratory/aircraft MEP integration; Two systems fielded




  • King Aerospace, Inc. (Addison, TX)
  • Adams Communication and Engineering Technology (Waldorf, MD)
  • Sierra Nevada Corp. (Hagerstown, MD)
  • Litton Advanced Systems (Gaithersburg, MD)
  • BAE Systems (Manchester, NH)
  • WESCAM (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada)
  • Lockheed Martin (Phoenix, AZ)
  • Leidos, Inc. (Reston, VA)