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surveillance and reconnaissance

Federal Aviation Administration Approves First Unmanned Quadrotor

July 2, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The Instant Eye small unmanned aerial system received approval last Thursday from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to be used by an energy company, which will conduct research, development and training to see if the system is practical for inspecting infrastructure such as pipelines, power lines and insulators on towers. It is the first unmanned quadrotor to receive FAA certification and may be the lightest aircraft ever certified. The approval opens the door for the system to be used for a wide range of commercial applications.

Defense Spectrum Community Aims for National Strategy

July 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

U.S. Defense Department officials intend to complete a departmentwide spectrum strategy road map this month, which will make more frequencies available to warfighters, provide greater flexibility—especially for international operations—and ultimately allow warfighters to conduct their missions more effectively. At the same time, however, some are suggesting a nationwide strategy to allow for more innovative and effective spectrum management and sharing across government and industry.

The Defense Department released its spectrum strategy in February to address the ever-increasing demand for wireless spectrum to achieve national security goals. That strategy largely was written by personnel within the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Defense Spectrum Organization (DSO) in coordination with the office of the chief information officer for the Defense Department. Now, the two offices are working on a road map for implementing the strategy.

Concurrently, some are recommending development of a comprehensive, nationwide strategy for spectrum management affecting the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and all other agencies as well as the commercial sector. “What we have is a spectrum structure within the United States that was first created by the Telecommunications Act of 1934. We have created a pretty rigid system. What we’re pushing for through our spectrum strategy are changes and innovative ways to operate spectrum,” says Stuart Timerman, DSO director. “We would like to see that adopted nationally to have a national spectrum strategy where the FCC, NTIA and all of the federal agencies and commercial industry would plan for the future.”

Slowing Down Rapid Acquisition

August 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

With the war in Afghanistan winding down, the U.S. Defense Department’s rapid deployment office, which specializes in identifying, developing and quickly fielding game-changing technologies, now will take a more long-term approach. Slightly stretching out the process will offer more flexibility to procure the best possible systems, will present more opportunities for interagency and international cooperation and may cut costs.

Network Complexities Challenge Army, Force Structure Changes

July 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The complexities of the U.S. Army’s networks and spectrum allocation processes interfere with the need to reassign units to different tasks, creating major delays and presenting serious challenges.

Defense Strives to Find Breakthrough Technological Advantages

July 1, 2014
By Rita Boland

Officials across the U.S. Defense Department are pushing to identify and develop the disruptive technologies that will offer orders-of-magnitude advantages on the battlefield. But while bringing such capabilities to fruition is difficult, even determining what qualifies as disruptive represents a challenge. As personnel wrestle with definitions, they are forging ahead with their creative ideas.

Pockets of Resistance Threaten Robotics Funding

May 22, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Defense Department is failing to invest in game-changing technology that could increase efficiencies and save lives, according to a just-released report from the Center for a New American Security, which also recommends funding more battlefield drones.

NATO Testing Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Capabilities

May 16, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Representatives from the U.S. Army and Air Force, along with 17 NATO nations and three partner nations, will participate in a joint reconnaissance trial in Norway this month to test and evaluate intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance concepts and technologies.

What Worked in War, What Lies Ahead

May 1, 2014
BY Rita Boland

Technologies including voice over Internet protocol, high-definition video and satellite communications altered the battlefield during years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but as combat operations draw to a close, different challenges are emerging. Technical, fiscal and personnel changes all are shifting, forcing decision makers to reevaluate activities.

The military is in a transition period, and U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) is at the heart of the shift. Funding and human resources will be far more limited than in the past decade. Communications experts have put powerful capabilities in place in the command’s region, but the retrograde and alterations in operations mean different methods of employing and understanding them are necessary.

Brig. Gen. John Baker, USA, J-6, CENTCOM, has overseen a series of changes in the area of responsibility and in garrison during his tenure, including a tremendous expansion in the use of voice over Internet protocol (VoIP)/everything over Internet protocol. The move has been a significant advantage, he explains. In addition to that massive alteration in infrastructure came the deployment of black core measures throughout the region. Results of the changes included bandwidth savings with improved security for users. Gen. Baker states that putting black core into theater allows people to employ bandwidth better and with more agility.

The benefits are important as CENTCOM communicators have extended their networks significantly, especially in embassies, to help support security cooperation officers. With the exceptions of Syria and Iran, the United States has an embassy in every country in the command’s area, all of which now connect through VoIP services.

Air Force ISR Changes After Afghanistan

May 1, 2014
BY Rita Boland

The U.S. Air Force is emerging from almost 13 years of conflict in the Middle East with a different perspective on its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Lessons learned from those battlefields are leading to new directions that will entail abandoning traditional approaches and methods.

Recent operations have demonstrated the importance of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) to coalition partners. As the missions wind down, officials in charge of such activities are focusing on a reset, determining what adjustments to make to keep the capabilities relevant moving forward. The Air Force has no plans to stop providing services across the military, though what that means with a smaller force in different environments remains to be seen.

Throughout the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, capabilities from various sensors became available at continually lower echelons even as support remained intact to the highest levels within the United States. Officials in the ISR community have learned to better integrate platforms, sensors, the network and the enterprise. The advent of the Joint Information Environment encompasses part of that effort, as the military creates a single, secure information-sharing environment across its branches.

Maj. Gen. Jack Shanahan, USAF, commander, Air Force ISR Agency, says the war in Afghanistan will be remembered as an ISR war as much as anything else. Incredible ISR capabilities were fielded to Iraq and Afghanistan during the past 12 to 13 years, but not all of them will transfer to the military of the future. Others will be revamped for a different fight. Some capabilities coming out of Afghanistan, for example, will be as important in new locations, but for different reasons, Gen. Shanahan states.

Qatar to Develop Optionally Piloted Aircraft

March 27, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Thales recently announced the company has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Qatar Armed Forces to assist in the development of an Optionally Piloted Vehicle-Aircraft (OPV-A), a high-performance intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance system.

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