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Project Cyclops

Included in the CECOM Historical Office’s archive is a circa 1958 report on the Project Cyclops Program. The report’s purpose was to document “a presentation of the US Army Combat Surveillance Agency” that was given by the US Army Signal Research and Development Agency. Project Cyclops grew out of a need to know what items or systems were available and adaptable for combat or battle area surveillance, and to determine what new developments were in progress or were planned for development. The need to answer these questions was assigned to the Signal Corps Research and Development Laboratory; the Laboratory decided to respond by developing a series of charts that would display technical data and other information. With this Project Cyclops was established 2 December 1957.

The mission of the project was to make a complete survey of all DoD Research and Development projects that pertained to combat surveillance in chart form, then review and analyze these projects to determine duplications and areas that required emphasis. To carry out this mission, engineers were brought in and assigned to the project. Under this project equipments were assigned to “fourteen fields of interest or categories.” See Figure 1.

Figure 1 - Project Cyclops Categories

Figure 1 – Project Cyclops Categories

The report goes on to discuss aspects of the process and, proceeds into speaker narratives and the recommendations for the categories of interest as follows. Photography, recommending expedited development of drone photographic capability, accelerated development of photographic system designed for specific drones, and development of a photographic process that would operate in radioactive environments, as well as research in the field of visual light detection. Infrared included recommendations for augmentation of support to research toward development of mosaic detectors capable of infrared images like a TV picture, establishing training in the interpretation of infrared flight records, evaluating two color infrared techniques, and a miniaturization program to ensure that future equipments are compatible with space and weigh characteristics of future drones and aircraft. Radar included portability for mortar detection radar, and new radar equipment for artillery and rocket detection, miniaturization. TV included developing high sensitivity TV tubes for night viewing, snapshot and high resolution strip mapping techniques. Facsimile, recommendations included developing equipment suitable for combat surveillance field use, and developing specialized facsimile applications. Acoustic & Seismic, included basically continue “as is.” Radiological Survey recommendations included instrumentation for use in drones and for measurement of radiation in clouds. Mapping and Survey, the recommendation was basically to continue “as is.” For Aircraft and Drones (see photo below) development of Air Force and Navy drones, high performance aircraft for army surveillance, and techniques for long range detection of guided missiles. For Meteorology and Navigation & Control the recommendations were general in nature.

Cyclops Drones

The general conclusion was there was no duplication, that attention should be focused on conversion of raw surveillance data into usable data and that R&D continue.

A copy of this report is available from the history office can be obtained from the CECOM Historical Office by contacting the Office using the Web link at or the report can be reviewed by visiting the Office at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.

This post was written by Floyd Hertwck.

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