surveillance and reconnaissance

October 1, 2013
By Rita Boland
Senior Amn. Xavier Rubio, USAF, tests a satellite communications dish aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor.

China’s activities in space have caught the attention of U.S. and other countries’ officials, altering how personnel must consider the domain. The importance of the area outside of Earth to military operations makes the location critical for any nation looking to put itself into a terrestrial position of power. During 2012, China conducted 18 space launches and upgraded various constellations for purposes such as communications and navigation. China’s recent expansion into the realm presents new concerns for civilian programs and defense assets there.

October 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers
Defense Satellite Communication System satellites provide critical communication links used by the Defense Department and U.S. allies.

The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff have updated doctrine for future warfighters to realign space situational awareness as the fifth mission area and to offer direction on operating in a contested or degraded space environment. The updated document will guide combatant commanders and other warfighters for years to come, influencing training, mission planning and global operations.

August 1, 2013
By Rita Boland
U.S. Army systems engineers conduct hardware in the loop testing on a Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft. The Army is partnering with universities through Memorandums of Understanding to give students the knowledge and experience necessary to contribute to the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) field in the future.

 

The U.S. Army is working to ensure the future of autonomous air platforms by reaching out to the emerging talent in the academic world. Earlier this year, soldiers signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Alabama in Huntsville to engage students with work in this field as part of their education. The program aims to develop an innovative and prepared workforce in the future. Graduates not only will have had a more specific focus for their studies, but they also will be prepared better for the job market. Shaping studies now helps ensure that necessary skills are available to and even present in the Army later, according to officials from both the military branch and the institute of higher education.

August 1, 2013
By Rita Boland
This rendering proposes a virtual window screen across the rear ramp of an armored vehicle. It would give troops riding in the vehicle a critical picture of their surroundings, which they currently lack.

Researchers are developing new ways of enabling troops inside personnel carriers to see their outside environment without increasing their vulnerability to hostile fire. The goal is to provide enhanced 360-degree situational awareness from sensors installed on a vehicle as well as from other off-board cameras in the area.

Service members sitting inside certain armor-protected military vehicles are often similar to sardines, encased in a metal box with no means for ascertaining their surroundings. These all-metal, no-window platforms put troops at a definite disadvantage, unable to eyeball threats or opportunities.

August 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers
Warfighters overwhelmed by the vast amounts of imagery available from unmanned aerial systems and other sensors may soon rely on Persistics, a revolutionary system that compresses data while maintaining vital image quality.

 

Researchers at one of the premier national laboratories in the United States are prepared to hand the Defense Department a prototype system that compresses imagery without losing the quality of vital data. The system reduces the volume of information; allows imagery to be transmitted long distances, even across faulty communications links; and allows the data to be analyzed more efficiently and effectively.

June 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers
A U.S. Marine Corps F-35 aircraft is escorted by two Marine F/A-18 Hornets as it flies toward Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Later this year, the Defense Department will establish a program of record to ensure communications between different generations of fighter aircraft, and that program will feed into the Joint Aerial Layer Network vision.

The concept connects disparate networks to provide greater information to warfighters.

U.S. military officials envision one day being able to network together virtually all airborne assets, providing data to warfighters in the air, on the ground and at sea, even under the most harsh conditions. Major milestones in the coming months and years will bring that concept closer to a fielded capability.

June 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
U.S. Air Force officers monitor moving target indicators during a training exercise for the Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS).

Costs, security and operations requirements share top billing on priority list.

The U.S. Air Force is looking to overhaul its networking capabilities to meet new taskings in the post-Southwest-Asia era. Limited resources are changing the way the Air Force moves information throughout the battlespace, so the service must confront its challenges through innovative approaches and cooperative efforts.

May 9, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Software enables users to access and control information from different vehicles.

A new software tool incorporated into common control systems can allow different users to exploit data from a variety of unmanned aerial systems (UASs). The tool ultimately may permit forces to control unmanned systems launched by other services in joint operations.

May 1, 2013
By Arthur Allen and Zdenka Willis
A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter delivers passengers from the sailing ship Bounty after the ship foundered during superstorm Sandy last October.

The synergy between operational planning and radar sensing provides enhanced search and rescue capabilities.

The U.S. Coast Guard is combining high-frequency coastal radar data with traditional oceanographic and geographic information to improve its chances of rescuing people in distress on the high seas. By merging these different sources of data, the Coast Guard enhances its search abilities while also providing better weather prediction for both its search and rescue teams and an endangered public in coastal areas.

April 4, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Future conflicts likely will be fought in degraded information technology environments, which will require the U.S. Navy to develop and exploit new capabilities to continue to operate in contested cyberspace. Technologies such as a flexible information grid, assured timing services and directed energy weapons must be part of the naval information system arsenal if the sea service is to maintain information dominance through the year 2028.

April 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers
A modernized and fully digitized unmanned aerial system could be performing vital missions over the Asia-Pacific region in the coming years. The upgraded Shadow system fielded by the U.S. Marine Corps could potentially play a major role in the region.

The upgraded RQ-7 could play a significant role in the Asia-Pacific region.

The U.S. Marine Corps could potentially begin fielding newly upgraded RQ-7 Shadow systems as early as next year, according to experts. The new version of the combat-proven aircraft is fully digitized, improves interoperability, can be teamed with manned aircraft and provides intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data to a broader range of warfighters, including manned aircraft crews. The upgraded system is intended to serve as an interim capability until the Marine Corps can field a larger, more capable unmanned aircraft.

April 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers
Future U.S. Army vehicles may be designed to carry common components that will decrease the size, weight and power consumption of electromagnetic systems while reducing costs and improving interoperability.

An upcoming demonstration could lead to a giant leap in common electromagnetic components.

U.S. Army researchers intend to demonstrate in the coming weeks that some components, such as antennas and amplifiers, can perform two functions—communications and electronic warfare. The ultimate goal is to use the same components for multiple purposes while dramatically reducing size, weight, power consumption and costs. The effort could lead to a set of common components for electromagnetic systems across the Army, the other military services and even international partners, which would be a boon for battlefield interoperability.

March 1, 2013
By Rita Boland
Artist’s rendering of the Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System scheduled for fielding to the U.S. Army in 2014. The system will provide enhanced connectivity to the Distributed Common Ground System-Army, the service branch’s premier intelligence enterprise.

The plug-and-play technology will close large capability gaps in the field.

The U.S. Army is developing the first airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform fully enabled to connect analysts with the Distributed Common Ground System-Army. That system will help remedy problems currently hindering soldiers from having all data feed into a single repository. With the new aircraft, the process will be streamlined from the flying support, so information reaches ground commanders faster to facilitate more timely decision making.

February 25, 2013
By George I. Seffers

U.S. Navy technology may allow in-flight conversion from helicopter to fixed wing.

Researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory are developing unmanned aircraft technology that will allow the conversion from a vertical take-off and landing system to a fixed-wing craft during in-flight operation. The conversion capability will provide the take-off and landing flexibility of a helicopter with the longer range, higher speeds and lower wear and tear of an airplane.

February 1, 2013
By Clarence A. Robinson Jr.
The Gorgon Stare sensor system is being mounted in Afghanistan on USAF/General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). This system from Exelis and Sierra Nevada Corporation can zoom in on and transmit up to 64 different images to soldiers on the ground.

Industry opens up an array of real-time imaging

Sweeping advances in sensor technologies are enabling wide-area airborne persistent surveillance on both manned and unmanned aircraft. Emerging sensor systems can provide high-resolution mosaic imagery for large swaths of the battlefield while focusing on individual objects.

These intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) sensor systems are winning their spurs on the battlefield in Afghanistan. They are meeting combat commanders’ urgent operational requirements to provide city-size area coverage. These sensors simultaneously can focus on and track individual vehicles and dismounted hostiles.

November 1, 2012
By George I. Seffers
Northrop Grumman Corporation's X-47B is one contender for the U.S. Navy's carrier-based UAV program. The program is important to industry because it is currently the only large UAV platform being developed by the U.S. military.

The next five years will be as exciting as the last decade--but in a different way.

Unmanned vehicles will undergo an array of changes in the coming years brought about by the war in Afghanistan winding down, budgets tightening and the national strategy shifting toward the Asia-Pacific region. Adjustments may include the retirement of some unmanned air systems, a stronger focus on refining existing unmanned planes rather than fielding new ones and increased research and development of land and maritime technologies.

October 1, 2012
By Max Cacas

The National Intelligence University prepares for its fifth decade with a shift in focus and a change in venue.

The National Intelligence University, which provides advanced training to U.S. intelligence professionals, is transitioning from an institution primarily focused on the U.S. Defense Department to one serving the entire intelligence community. This reflects the new emphasis toward sharing and collaboration within the nation's intelligence apparatus.

Tuesday, December 02, 2010
By Robert K. Ackerman

 

The U.S. Army’s Foliage Penetration Reconnaissance, Surveillance, Tracking and Engagement Radar (FORESTER) program aims to develop a low-frequency radar to track dismounted personnel under foliage. Army researchers are working to develop more versatile sensors to support increasingly diverse threat challenges.

December 2009
By Maryann Lawlor

 

The Naval Expeditionary Overwatch (NEO) system includes a 38-foot unmanned surface vehicle that is equipped with a Gunslinger and a multitude of sensors and communications systems. The boat can be controlled either remotely or semi-autonomously and will provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) support to commanders.

December 2009
By Rita Boland

 

The Enhanced Night Vision Goggle (Optical), or ENVG(O), is the first night vision device to offer infrared and image intensifier (I2) capabilities together. Users can overlay the functions to see both types of images in one display.

Pages