Air Force looks to 're-define' ISR sensor suites

The Air Force wants to make improvements to the sensor suites mounted on aircraft used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance that could “significantly re-define both medium and high altitude ISR sensors requirements and shape Air Force efforts in the [fiscal 2020 to 2030] timeframe.”

In a sources sought notice, the Air Force said it is seeking a study supporting an analysis of “alternatives for materiel solutions to detect mobile targets and targets obscured by natural or man-made means from medium and high altitudes.”

The notice states that the MQ-9 Reaper and RQ-4 Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft will be used to represent medium and high altitude platforms, respectively. The Reaper has a ceiling of 50,000 feet while the Global Hawk has an unclassified ceiling of 60,000 feet. 

Signals intelligence sensors and geospatial intelligence sensors—which include electro/optical, infrared, multispectral/hyperspectral imaging, ground surveillance radar, full motion video, light detection and ranging and on-board processing/exploitation/fusion of sensor data—will be the primary focus for sensor modalities of the study. 

It is unclear what types of man-made or natural obstructions targets—likely members of terrorist groups located in the Middle East, south Asia, North Africa and the Sahel—are utilizing or why the Air Force is now requiring this analysis of alternatives. An Air Force spokesperson told Defense Systems in an email that information concerning what types of man-made objects has obstructed ISR collection and target acquisition as well as clarification of mobile targets is not releasable. The notice stated that additional background data at the classified level can be obtained by qualified proposers.         

The most detail the notice goes into concerning the scope is that it will focus on solutions solving “to find, fix and track mobile, concealed and obscured targets across all 6 phases of joint operational construct.”

Among Air Force ISR sensors and processing within the constraints identified in Ground Rules, Constraints and Assumptions listed by the notice, the Air Force wishes to address the enhancement of on-board real-time processing for correlation/fusion of multi-source sensor data and object target recognition capabilities and enhancement and expansion of the range of applications for fully automated target recognition. 

Responses are due March 8, 2016. 

About the Author

Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.

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