In order to continue to provide tactical air reconnaissance for the Marines, a reconnaissance variant of the F/A—i 8D has been introduced to the fleet. This aircraft fulfills a void that was created by the retirement of the RF—4B aircraft which were forced to retire due to increasing difficulties at maintaining them. The F/A—i 8D aircraft, when retrofitted with the reconnaissance equipment, is designated as the F/A—i8D(RC) (Reconnaissance Capable). As such, it provides high resolution, long range standoff and overflight reconnaissance capabilities, for day or night, for all weather and under—the—weather missions. The F/A—i8D(RC) employs electro—optical (EO), infrared (IR), and synthetic aperature radar (SAR) sensors for the gathering of the image data. Image data is recorded onto two onboard recorders and is available for downlink to ground stations for subsequent dissemination and exploitation.
Staff of the Payette National Forest located in central Idaho used the Kodak Digital Infrared Camera to collect digital photographic images over a wide variety of selected areas. The objective of this aerial survey project is to collect airborne digital camera imagery and to evaluate it for potential use in forest assessment and management. The data collected from this remote sensing system is being compared with existing resource information and with personal knowledge of the areas surveyed. Resource specialists are evaluating the imagery to determine if it may be useful for; identifying cultural sites (pre-European settlement tribal villages and camps); recognizing ecosystem landscape pattern; mapping recreation areas; evaluating the South Fork Salmon River road reconstruction project; designing the Elk Summit Road; assessing the impact of sediment on anadramous fish in the South Fork Salmon River; assessing any contribution of sediment to the South Fork from the reconstructed road; determining post-wildfire stress development in conifer timber; in assessing the development of insect populations in areas initially determined to be within low intensity wildfire burn polygons; and to search for Idaho Ground Squirrel habitat. Project sites include approximately 60 linear miles of the South Fork of the Salmon River; a parallel road over about half that distance; 3 archaeological sites; two transects of about 6 miles each for landscape patterns; 3 recreation areas; 5 miles of the Payette River; 4 miles of the Elk Summit Road; a pair of transects 4.5 miles long for stress assessment in timber; a triplet of transects about 3 miles long for the assessment of the identification of species; and an area of about 640 acres to evaluate habitat for the endangered Idaho Ground Squirrel. Preliminary results indicate that the imagery is an economically viable way to collect site specific resource information that is of value in the management of a national forest.
The Navy's Tactical Air Reconnaissance Pod System (TARPS), flown on F-14 Tomcat aircraft, has been the primary source of tactical photographic imagery for the U.S. military since its initial development in 1981. Recent Navy initiatives have provided critically needed operational capabilities which will enable the TARPS System to continue to need the challenges of evolving tac recce requirements in the post- Cold War world. This paper discusses these TARPS enhancements and missions, and how the new capabilities are being employed to solve the sensor-to-shooter problem. Additional TARPS growth capabilities and requirements, consistent with the guidance of Joint Vision 2010, and the Navy's TAC RECCE-2020 STUDY recommendations, are also presented. Recommendations are provided on the continued enhancement of the F-14 TARPS capabilities, as well as the utilization of the TARPS System as a test bed to verify concepts and technologies for follow-on tac recce platforms.
Twenty years ago the United States was in the midst of the cold war with the Warsaw Pact as our most formidable and likely enemy. They had three times as many tanks, artillery pieces, and armored personnel carriers as us. Since we could not match them in numbers the NATO forces and the US Department of Defense strategists devised what former Secretary ofDefense William Perry called an "Offset Strategy." This was simply to use our superior technology to offset their greater numbers. The technology that evolved was a combination ofprecision guided munitions, stealth, and intelligence and reconnaissance gathering capabilities. Secretary Peny called it the Reconnaissance Strike Force. We never had to use the offset strategy because the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact dissolved. However, along came Desert Storm. Instead of facing an opponent having superior numbers as the Warsaw Pact forces had the Coalition Forces of Desert Storm faced essentially equal numbers of the same equipments that we had designed our systems against. Desert Storm demonstrated that in such a conflict our superior technology would give us dominance. Today, Force Dominance is the buzz phrase that dictates much of our defense planning. We want to win decisively and dominate a conflict. To do this we need to excel in three things. One, we need to know what's happening. Situational awareness is the goal of the battle commander. Whoever knows first what his opponent is doing will usually win. This is the role of the intelligence and reconnaissance arm of the Reconnaissance Strike Force. Second, the commander needs to get his weapons into position to use them effectively. This is where stealth in aircraft becomes vital. And thirdly, the weapons themselves need the accuracy to hit the their targets.
Proc. SPIE 3128, Battlespace 2000 emerging intellingence/surveillance communication architectures in support of the forward-deployed warrior in the 21st century, 0000 (21 November 1997); doi: 10.1117/12.283919
In recent years many of the airborne sensor technology development goals of the reconnaissance and surveillance communities have been either realized or about to come `on stream.' The challenge now is to get that sensor information to the warfighter in a comprehensive and timely manner. In this paper we will look at the communications architectures that will bring this information to the Navy's Battle Group Commander and enable him to fully coordinate sensor-to- shooter, theater based mission planning. The Common High Bandwidth Data Link-Surface Terminal (CHBDL-ST), which successfully completed TECHEVAL/OPEVAL aboard the USS Kennedy last year, will be central to that architecture. CHBDL-STs installed on carriers and amphibians receive data over the Common Data Link (CDL) from the airborne sensors providing digital imagery, signal intelligence (SIGINT), infrared and radar. At present, CHBDL-ST supports the Advanced Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance System and the Battle Group Passive Horizon Extension System which provides the Carrier Battle Group (CVBG) electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) and SIGINT data respectively. Imagery from the airborne platform will be passed from CHBDL-ST to the Joint Services Image Processing System-Navy. Via CDL, through the CHBDL-ST, other manned and unmanned airborne platforms will be able to transmit their sensor data down to the CVBG. With the CHBDL-ST as the cornerstone of its reconnaissance/surveillance communications architecture, the CVBG will have access to the appropriate sensor data from organic and non-organic (i.e., joint) sources required to complete a theater wide battle picture. The paper will explore how CHBDL-ST, as the cornerstone of the CVBG's reconnaissance/surveillance communications architecture, will (1) receive data from the UAV's; (2) improve the time to receive and process imagery; (3) impact the dissemination of intelligence data fleet wide; (4) provide a battle picture for the forward deployed warrior; and (5) provide support for the forward deployed warrior.
For over 20 years, the National Imagery Interpretability Rating Scale (NIIRS) has served as a standard to quantify the interpretability or usefulness of imagery. The need for a NIIRS arose from the inability of simple physical image quality measures, such as resolution, to adequately predict image interpretability. The NIIRS defines the levels of image interpretability by the types of tasks an analyst can perform with imagery of a given rating level. The NIIRS provides a simple, yet powerful, tool for assessing and communicating image quality and sensor system requirements. While the scale itself is simple, the process of developing the scale is both complex and resource intensive. Rigorous methods are needed to: develop appropriate image interpretation tasks, relate these tasks to the various levels of image quality, and validate that the scale is usable in practice and has the desirable properties of a rating scale. This paper presents three different NIIRS corresponding to three types of imagery. Visible, IR, and Radar. The paper also discusses the methodology used to develop and validate these rating scales.
Ground resolvable distance (GRD) provides the system designer with an end-to-end system performance measure to allocate electro-optical sensor design budgets to the engineering disciplines. Laboratory performance for sensor design parameters is defined in terms of modulation transfer function and noise equivalent differential radiance. Linking GRD to sensor design parameters provides management and engineering with the tool to assess the influence of a single system component to total system performance. Although ultimately sensor imaging performance for reconnaissance is measured by the National Imagery Interpretability Rating Scale (NIIRS), engineering prefers GRD since it can be predicted by analysis, measured in the field, and traced to laboratory measurements of system components. The general image quality equation can be used to estimate the expected average NIIRS rating from the same system analysis parameters used to calculate GRD.
Any image acquired by optical, electro-optical or electronic means is likely to be degraded by the environment. The resolution of the acquired image depends on the total MTF (Modulation Transfer Function) of the system and the additive noise. Image restoration techniques can improve image resolution significantly; however, as the noise increases, improvements via image processing become more limited because image restoration increases the noise level of the image. The purpose of this research is to check and characterize the MTF and noise level influences on target acquisition probability by a human observer, i.e., checking the worthwhileness of the restoration. The immediate quantity that was measured is not the probability of detection, but rather the number of targets of different sizes and degradation recognized in each scene. Conditions when restoration is advisable are determined. Further research will include real-world target recognition probability.
The role of the atmosphere in target acquisition modeling is investigated experimentally. Three models are compared to experimental results measured on the Golan heights, Israel. Concepts considered are atmospheric attenuation versus atmospheric blur, and contrast limited (blur-limited) versus noise-limited imaging. Results indicate that the role of the atmosphere in target acquisition is blur rather than attenuation, and that for ranges on the order of a few kilometers modern sensors are limited by atmospheric blur rather than by noise.
This paper presents the details of the engineering flight tests of the CA-260/25 25-Mpixel tactical reconnaissance camera, performed at Mojave, CA in August 1996. The camera's fundamentals of operation are presented, along with a comparison of features with the earlier 4-Mpixel camera. The paper discusses the purpose, equipment configuration and mission specifics, and summarizes flight test results. Examples of flight test imagery are then presented with some analysis of CA-260 performance.
Fairchild Defense Division of Orbital Sciences Corporation has demonstrated that memory technology and pricing have developed to the point whereby solid-state memory recording is both feasible and desirable as a replacement for existing magnetic tape recorders in airborne reconnaissance, instrumentation, and other recording applications. An internally funded development program was conducted for a High-speed Solid State Recorder, and the system has now been integrated and flight tested on several airborne platforms. This paper discusses the progress and results for this new system.
New generations of electro-optical sensor suites can deliver images at pixel rates in the Gb/S rate. Such rates are well past the ability of moving media recorders. Concomitantly, the explosion of COTS memory chips has made solid state recorders (SSR) an economic and technical reality. This paper will review approaches to implementing multi-GByte SSRs, operating at write rates up to 10Gb/S. Considered will be appropriate COTS memory devices, nonvolatility issues, packaging, architecture to implement such operationally desirable features as in-flight editing, downlinking, quick- look and the impact of new approaches to error management and data compression. Future directions of recce SSRs are considered.
The Tactical Disk Recording System (TDRS) is an electronic digital recording device. It is specifically designed to record imagery data. The TDRS is capable of reliable operation in various airborne environments including high performance military aircraft. The first TDRS application is the recording of Forward Looking Infrared video in the LANTIRN targeting pod that is flown on F-16s, F-15Es, and more recently F-14s. All the imagery and associated support data is stored to a removable 9 Gigabyte magnetic hard disk. The TDRS employs an internal JPEG compression engine that significantly enhances the available record time. The removable disk drive can be easily connected via a SCSI interface to a computer workstation. All the image and support data is stored in MS-DOS file formats, which facilitates easy viewing, evaluation, and distribution of the source data and derived work products. The magnetic disk technology has been successfully used on other military aircraft. It has demonstrated excellent reliability and it has proven to be a cost-effective means of non-volatile data storage. The use of this technology in the LANTIRN pod is expected to demonstrate the practicality of the TDRS as a dependable, high quality, affordable, digital image recorder.
The application of the solid state Charge-Coupled Device (CCD) camera to the Airborne Reconnaissance role under Commercial Off The Shelf directives requires planning and special considerations. Through selection of CCD camera type, installation techniques, and limited testing an inexpensive solution to Electro-Optical (E-O) imaging can be achieved. This paper explores the aspects of the selection process and practical application of CCD camera characteristics to produce an effective E-O reconnaissance system for the Tactical Aircraft Reconnaissance Pod System (Digital Imagery).
The actual collection of data, such as digital imagery, using the multitude of sensors available today and in the near future, requires a high data rate digital recorder. The amount of memory, data rates, environmental factors and affordability are important issues when selecting the type of recording system. This paper will discuss two types of systems, tape and solid state. Emphasis will be placed on operational factors and specific mission profiles that are associated with a tactical reconnaissance mission. The current and projected costs of the digital tape recorder and soli state recorder will be examined. The logistics of moving the data from the aircraft to a Ground Exploitation System will be discussed. Once the data is collected it needs to be stored in non-volatile memory with easy access. One of the major problems encountered during Desert Storm was the inability to locate and retrieve reconnaissance images. A data base that can store terabytes of data and have the ability to recall this information from off-site locations should be a requirement for a Desert Storm scenario.
As battlefield fluidity increase, the need for current and accurate situation awareness increases. Critical to providing this awareness will be recce input. This input will need to be both timely and specific, that is, input will need to provide timely updates of only information which is critical. The use of multiple high speed sensors by recce aircraft will result in increases in data and knowledge changes. Many of these changes will be non- critical and could be contributors to information overload if constantly updated. There is a need to determine the significance of the changes and when they effect the battlefield environment enough to require updating/coordinating of situation awareness databases. This implies a need for recce aircraft to: (1) determine when there is a change, (2) determine the effect and criticality of the change(s), and (3) provide (only) necessary updates. This paper presents a discussion of ways to accomplish these needs and some current activities that are addressing the problem of determining when (and what) changes have occurred. The discussed method uses existing imagery and database information that can be cross correlated with new sensor inputs to determine changes in: (1) number and position of objects, (2) speed and handling of objects, and (3) whether the changes are significant enough to require immediate update of situation awareness.
In the Fall of 1996, the Center for Geographic Information Science at James Madison University became involved in a project for the Department of Defense evaluating the data needs and data management systems for humanitarian demining in the Third World. In particular, the effort focused on the information needs of demining in Cambodia and in Bosnia. In the first phase of the project one team attempted to identify all sources of unclassified country data, image data and map data. Parallel with this, another group collected information and evaluations on most of the commercial off-the-shelf computer software packages for the management of such geographic information. The result was a design for the kinds of data and the kinds of systems necessary to establish and maintain such a database as a humanitarian demining management tool. The second phase of the work involved acquiring the recommended data and systems, integrating the two, and producing a demonstration of the system. In general, the configuration involves ruggedized portable computers for field use with a greatly simplified graphical user interface, supported by a more capable central facility based on Pentium workstations and appropriate technical expertise.
This paper discusses a recently introduced electro-optical (E-O) step frame camera. The camera is designed for visible- spectrum, medium-altitude, wide-area coverage, military tactical reconnaissance. The paper reviews the tactical reconnaissance requirements for modern E-O cameras mandated by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Defense Airborne REconnaissance Office. Also, camera specifications and major hardware elements are given, followed by camera operational modes and performance. Finally, the paper presents the results of recent demonstration flights, including equipment configuration, flight parameters and resulting imagery.
The world order has changed and with it, governments are now faced with waging a new type of `ware.' Regional instability, drug trafficking, environmental issues, international terrorism, and illegal immigration are examples of escalating problems that cross international boundaries and threaten the security of nations. The first and most important element in coping with these illegal activities is the ability to detect and monitor events in a timely and secure fashion. Conventional means of gathering intelligence such as large airborne collection systems and satellites lack the flexibility, dwell times, and cost effectiveness to meet many of today's needs. There is a growing requirement for airborne platforms that can covertly perform surveillance missions during either day or night and in a cost effective manner. To meet this need, Schweizer Aircraft has recently developed the RU-38A twin-engine surveillance aircraft. This paper discusses the evolution and principle design concepts of this aircraft and how its unique performance enables the RU-38A to achieve new levels of surveillance capability.
The Air Force UAV Battlelab is part of a brand new Air Force program designed to invigorate conceptual thinking in critical mission areas. In the fall of 1996, Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Ronald Fogleman directed the establishment of six Battlelabs. The six Battlelabs are the UAV Battlelab (UAVB), the Air Expeditionary Force Battlelab (AEFB), the Information Warfare Battlelab (IWB), the Space Warfare Battlelab (SPB), the Command and Control Battle Management Battlelab (C2BMB), and the Force Protection (FP) Battlelab. With the exception of the AEF Battlelab, all Battlelabs are attached to Air Warfare Centers to take advantage of existing test and tactics development infrastructure. By design, the new battlelabs are small (less than 25 people), focused, and unique from other Air Force laboratory organizations