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Updated: 2022


The Airborne Reconnaissance Low-Multifunction (ARL-M), designated EO-5C, is a legacy manned multisensor, day and night, all-weather Aerial Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (AISR) system. It consists of a modified De Havilland Canada (DHC)-7 fixed wing aircraft equipped with Communications Intelligence and Imagery Intelligence (COMINT/IMINT), Ground Moving Target Indicator/Synthetic Aperture Radar (GMTI/SAR), and Electro-Optical and Infrared (EO/IR) Full-Motion Video (FMV) capability. Onboard operators control the payloads via open-architecture, multifunction workstations. Intelligence collected can be analyzed and disseminated from the onboard workstations in real time and recorded for post-mission analysis.

The Airborne Reconnaissance Low-Enhanced (ARL-E), designated RO-6A, is the Army’s newest manned multi-sensor, day and night, all-weather AISR system. ARL-E consists of a modified DHC-8-Q315 fixed wing aircraft equipped with a reconfigurable payload with enhanced COMINT and IMINT sensors including a long-range and a short-range GMTI/ Dismounted Moving Target Indicator/SAR, high-definition EO/IR FMV, and Hyperspectral Imagery. The sensors are controlled and operated using onboard Distributed Common Ground Station-Army (DCGS-A) multifunction workstations. Intelligence collected on the ARL-E can be analyzed and disseminated in real time, transmitted via Beyond Line of Sight satellite communication, or stored onboard for post-mission analysis.

The more capable DHC-8-Q315 based ARL-E will replace the ARL-M systems (DHC-7) with the first unit equipped in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021. By leveraging former Quick Reaction Capability DHC-8 programs, the Army has capitalized on the reutilization of previous Army investments, non-reoccurring engineering, improved airworthiness, and improved system availability for the Army Acquisition Category II program of record requirements. There are currently four ARL-M configured systems; there will be eight ARL-E configured systems and one trainer.

Benefit to the Soldier 

ARL provides tactical commanders with day and night, all-weather, real-time airborne COMINT/IMINT collection, and a designated area surveillance system. The reconfigurable payload provides flexibility to the commander. ARL provides real-time down-link of actionable intelligence to Brigade Combat Teams and higher echelons across the full range of military operations, including coalition support processes. 


  • Dual EO/IR Day/Night High-Definition Full Motion Video Sensors with Laser Range Finding and Target Designation Capability
  • Tactical Signals and Communication Intelligence/Direction Finding Subsystems with Theater Net-Centric Geolocation
  • Synthetic Aperture Radar and Ground/Dismount-Moving Target Indicator Radar
  • Hyperspectral Imagery/Long Range Radar and Short Range Radar (VaDER)
  • DCGS-A Enabled Workstations 

Program Status – Significant Events (FY18–FY20)

  • FY18–FY20: Project Directorate Sensors-Aerial Intelligence (PD SAI) performed Systems Integration Laboratory/aircraft Mission Equipment Package (MEP) integration
  • 2QFY18: Project Manager Fixed Wing (FW) awarded a contract for ARL-M and ARL-E aircraft sustainment
  • FY18: PM FW delivered two ARL-E aircraft with upgraded cockpits and Aircraft Survivability Equipment suites to PD SAI
  • FY19:
    • Two ARL-M aircraft were divested
    • PM FW delivered trainer aircraft to 204th Military Intelligence Battalion
    • PM SAI completed the integration of the first MEP on the first ARL-E aircraft
  • 4QFY19:
    • PM FW utilized a modification contract for the APX-119 mode 5 level 1 elective improvement of three EO-5 aircraft to meet Global Air Traffic Management (GATM) 2020 compliance
    • PM SAI awarded Sustainment Contract for Operations and Logistics to provide operations and support for ARL-E and ARL-M
  • FY20:
    • One ARL-M aircraft was divested
    • PM SAI completed Developmental Testing of the first ARL-E system
  • 2QFY20: PM FW utilized a modification contract for the APX-119 mode 5 level 1 elective improvement of one EO-5 aircraft to meet GATM 2020 compliance

Projected Activities – Significant Events (FY21–FY25) 

  • FY19-FY25: Support force generation and sustainment of ARL-E and ARL-M
  • 2QFY21: Follow-on Operational Test and Evaluation to be conducted for the ARL-E

Acquisition Life Cycle Phase

Production & Deployment


Aranea Solutions, Inc. (Reston, VA)
Leidos, Inc. (Reston, VA)
Northrop Grumman Corp. (Linthicum, MD)