Drones are not the only thing watching you from Dayton.

The Iraq and Afganistan wars produced multiple ways to watch an occupied civilian population. One of the more notable, a blimp bearing the Kestrel camera system, has already been adapted by Google to provide 4G cellular connectivity in the third world. Closer to home, law enforcement has found that there is more than one way that a Kestrel flies. Meet Miami Valley's own Persistant Surveillance Systems (PSS).

The war-Kestrel system is a tethered blimp with a pod on it's belly. The pod houses multiple cameras and a gimbal system which allow them to work together. This permits surveillance of a 100 square kilometer area with a resolution of half a meter. The constantly updated picture can be watched by scores of soldiers constantly. It is called wide area surveillance or persistant surveillance. PSS does it with different cameras and single engine aircraft instead of a blimp.

The company, which lists addresses in Fairborn Ohio, Xenia Ohio and Mesa Arizona, was founded by Ross McNutty, a retired Air Force officer who worked on Kestrel. Kestrel uses Wescam cameras manufactured by L-3 Communications. L-3 is the nation's leading manufacturer of license plate readers and body cameras. One of L-3 employees was found to be raping juvenille prisoners at Abu-Gharrib. He was not fired.

McNutty's system uses Cessna 182 aircraft and an array of GigE cameras manufactured by Imperx. Exactly at this point of resolution, the picture of PSSs leaves the known tangible world and enters the realm of intelligence community obfuscation.

PSS is known to have contracts with the Cities of Columbus and Cleveland as well as Baltimore, where they assisted the Baltimore Police in supressing protests after the police murder of Freddie Gray in April of last year. During those days of public outrage, the FBI was found to be employing a secret air force over the city, with planes registered to non-existent or barely existent companies.

Although the system uses Cessna aircraft, PSS owns no aircraft of it's own. It's associated company MacAir Aviation Services, owns 2. Ross McNutty owns one aircraft personally. This fleet is not sufficient operating capacity for all of PSS's missions. Those missions include surveillance of Ohio State Football Games, support for Sarah Palin's VP announcement and known contracts with Indianapolis, Columbus, Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. Dayton and the LA County Sheriff's department cancled contracts with PSS after public outcry. The company also patrols the skies over Juarez, Mexicali and Nogales in Mexico and assists the Border Patrol in the El Paso region.

All of PSS's employees are vetted by the Department of Defense and the company has additional unspecified and classified contracts with the Department of Homeland Security.

PSS, in addition to it's MacAir Aviation Services corporate sibling, maintains a flying club called the MacAir Areo Club, based out of the Greene County Airport Xenia where all three companies share an address. A quick look at that address, 140 N Valley road in Xenia, reveals that it is a double wide trailer next to an old graveyard near the runway. No hanger facilities are to be found.

McNutty claims that his Hawkeye II systems does not have a facial recognition or or other biometric identification capability, that technology may soon be offered. Just as L-3 Communications is corporately linked to L-1 identity solutions, which makes the FBI's facial recognition database, PSS has research partners. PSS, through their corporate brochures, claims to be actively working with Central State University's Center for Human Performance and Sensor Applications (CSU-CHPSA).

CSU-CHPSA's has four funded projects including one that is a "multi-scale analysis framework to detect, track, understand and evaluate human activity, and crowd behaviors through surveillance camera data. Different from previous work, this project is dedicated to disclose a suspicious individual or group from a crowd of people that are under surveillance." and another that "will focus on utilizing non-invasive techniques to conduct human facial image analysis and recognition through use of data fusion techniques."

The net result of this are small aircraft watching individuals and crowds over large areas. These aircraft are can not be conclusively proven to be owned by the FBI, DHS, or any given corporation or individual. This technology will be coupled with advanced image processing for both facial recognition and suspect identification in a crowd. When coupled with Stingray cell tower spoofing technology it can see who is holding what telephone. It has already been used in classified projects, at college football games, to protect Sarah Palin, to drive migrants further into the desert and to suppress anti-police brutality protests. It was built as part of Battelle's third frontier development scheme for the Miami Valley and it's operators love to be filmed screaming O-H-I-O.

Date Originally Published: 
Saturday, February 27, 2016
Gerry Bello