surveillance and reconnaissance

March 2003
By Maryann Lawlor

Future weapons platform designed to quell tomorrow’s threats.

Hellfire missile-toting Predators are an interim measure to increase combatant power in the area of operations. But the U.S. military is moving forward quickly on the path to a force-enabling tactical air power weapon system for both pre-emptive and reactive strikes.

February 2003
By Maryann Lawlor

Missions continue to expand for latest military platforms.

Recognizing the power that unmanned aerial vehicles bring to the battlespace, military personnel are calling for more—so much so that the demand is nearly outpacing the supply. The U.S. military is very pleased with the performance of the aircraft in the war on terrorism and continues to investigate new enhancements to current systems. The U.S. Defense Department is working to determine how the vehicles can be integrated into the total force structure most effectively.

April 2002
By Maryann Lawlor

Marines examine advanced field technologies.

Unmanned aerial vehicles the size of model airplanes, ruggedized minicomputers that automate calls for air support and remotely controlled rifled mortar capabilities will change the way the U.S. Marine Corps fights on future battlefields. Armed with information they can safely gather about what lurks over the next hill, front-line troops will be able to send accurate data to pilots and commanders so they can respond expeditiously with appropriate fire support.

April 2003
By Maryann Lawlor

It’s not a bird or plane. It’s an unmanned aircraft.

Today’s unmanned aerial vehicles look like fighter aircraft, but the next generation of aircraft will more likely resemble brainy birds. By taking advantage of miniaturization, researchers and engineers are exploring ways to put the power of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance collection directly into the hands of warfighters. In the not-too-distant future, these systems will employ networking technologies to give commanders ubiquitous situational awareness.

July 2003
By Robert K. Ackerman

Investments and innovations pay off as new capabilities give a glimpse of the future.

The theoretical superiority of network-centric warfare in conventional combat was realized with the rapid U.S.-led coalition victory over Saddam Hussein’s forces in Iraq. Coalition forces brought to bear the full power of megabits and gigabytes against regular, irregular and so-called elite forces of the Iraq military.

May 2002
By Robert K. Ackerman

Building a warfighting network is only the beginning; its capabilities mandate a new way of doing business.

The next step in network-centric warfare will be the creation of networked sensing suites that tailor their observations to the adversary’s rate of activity. These various sensors will concentrate on observing changes rather than on observing scenery.

By Clarence A. Robinson Jr.


The Terrain Commander from Textron Corporation provides the basis for the U.S. Army's unattended ground sensor (UGS) Future Combat Systems. The sensor assembly is equipped with a variety of optical, acoustic and seismic devices. Note the laptop computer for displays in a sensor cell.

Combat forces aided by new devices find tanks and mines, thwart ambushes.

March 2004
By Henry S. Kenyon


The Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) High satellite constellation is scheduled to replace aging Defense Support Program missile detection spacecraft. Although SBIRS-High satellites will perform some of the early warning duties of their predecessors, they are multirole platforms capable of battlefield assessment and surveillance missions.

March 2004
By Robert K. Ackerman


The introduction of new surveillance and reconnaissance systems will require new ways of collecting, processing and disseminating various forms of data. The distributed common ground system, of DCGS, is designed to fuse imagery, tactical data, signals intelligence and open source information.