Constant Hawk - Afghanistan (CH-A)
Constant Hawk is a Quick Reaction Capability supporting the Army's requirement for reconnaissance, surveillance, targeting, and acquisition. Constant Hawk delivers persistent wide-area surveillance high resolution day/night imagery providing the ground commander with the ability for forensic back-tracking of Named Areas of Interests.
Sensors on multi-layered surveillance and reconnaissance platforms such as Constant Hawk and C-12 Aerial Reconnaissance Multi-Sensor (ARMS) provide constant battlespace awareness. The Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) executes its funds along four lines of operations (LOOs): Attack the Network, Defeat the Device, Train the Force and Staff and Infrastructure. Constant battlespace awareness could enable defeat of a complex insurgent network of IED makers, trainers, suppliers and their supporting infrastructure. Continuous, multiple, and simultaneous offenses against the IED system are required to counter the effect of all forms of IEDs used against the United States and Coalition Forces. This includes developing and procuring equipment and materials used in support of Joint Urgent Operational Needs Statements (JUONS) to prevent IED emplacing networks.
Constant Hawk is an airborne intelligence system that collects day-only motion imagery for use in forensic backtracking of enemy activity. The system conducts persistent area coverage and uses software to produce motion imagery. These products may be exploited for use in the Counter Improvised Explosive Device (C-IED) mission and other spectacular and complex enemy events or attacks. The Constant Hawk is a Contract-Owned/Contractor Operation aerial intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance system that provides the tactical commander data needed to conduct high resolution imagery forensics to assist in C-IED operations. In the Operation Iraqi Freedom area of operations, the C-23B/Shorts 360 aircraft were used to carry the system. In support of Operation Enduring Freedom the system was mounted on Beechcraft King Air A-200T (C-12 equivalent) aircraft. This latter variation was also referred to as Constant Hawk - Afghanistan (CH-A)
Constant Hawk is a surveillance capability that leverages an electro-optic payload to collect intelligence over areas of interest. This capability offers a unique combination of coverage and high spatial resolution required to detect and characterize events of interest along with their relevant tactical context. Typically, a Constant Hawk system maintains surveillance for a period of time while building a history of activity. The Constant Hawk forensic intelligence product is used to ascertain information on the enemy and identify areas that require increased surveillance by other assets. The forensic analysis is conducted post-mission. It also provides actionable intelligence derived from vehicle backtracking of vehicle borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) events. The software orthorectifies and georectifies the imagery.
Constant Hawk first arrived in 2006 and was acclaimed as one of the top 10 new systems of that year. Intelligence analysts in Iraq used this system to successfully spot suspicious activities resulting in the early warning of potential roadside bombs and terrorist ambushes. Users immediately recognized the lifesaving applications of Constant Hawk, which generated more demand for its data. However, Constant Hawk was originally designed as a demonstration pilot, making its data formats unique to the system used in Iraq. This resulted in delays in providing intelligence products to users outside of Iraq and reduced the effectiveness of forensic analysis.
An FY2007 reprogramming request of $2.0 million funded the training, deployment and operations of three imagery analysts in Iraq to support the exploitation of Constant Hawk data. The significant contributions of the deployedConstant Hawk systems had been recognized by USCENTCOM which had integrated them into their ISR architecture. Overall system performance was related to the number of analysts available to support operational exploitation of the data. Additional analysts would allow faster exploitation of more data resulting in significant improvements in the scope and timeliness of the intelligence available to operational forces.
The FY2008 budget request included a classified amount in PE35206A for improvements to the Constant Hawk persistent surveillance system. The House bill would approve the requested amount. The Senate amendment would authorize an additional $30.0 million to accelerate and broaden the scope of the Constant Hawk system. The conferees agreed to authorize the requested amount. The current deployment of the Army's Constant Hawk system had proven the importance of large-area persistent surveillance in the campaign against improvised explosive device (IED) networks in Iraq. However, the coverage area is limited, and the platform's endurance is also limited. The system is designed to provide support only to the forensic analysis mission.
The Marine Corps was fielding a similar capability called Angel Fire. Angel Fire is designed to provide real-time support to ground force operations with improved sensor resolution. The Congressional Conferees agreed that while these two systems should eventually be merged into a single program with improved capabilities, this merger must not hinder current efforts to complete the fielding of either the Constant Hawk or Angel Fire systems. The conferees also urged the Army and Marine Corps to commit to integrating these systems in accordance with the equipment and procedures required by Task Force ODIN, and Army and Marine Corps ground forces.
The conferees directed the Secretary of Defense to provide a conceptual plan for merger of the Constant Hawk and Angel Fire programs, which must include an assessment of the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) impacts of such a merger. The conferees also direct the Secretaries of the Army and Navy to provide program management plans for the Constant Hawk and Angel Fire programs, including respective budget detail to the congressional defense and intelligence committees within 60 days of enactment of this Act. The conferees also direct the Secretary of Defense to provide a study of future improvements to wide-area persistent surveillance, including: an assessment of sensor technology capabilities and limitations; an analysis of the most suitable sensor platforms; an evaluation of the best system architecture for collecting, sharing, and analyzing sensor data; and analysis of the optimum use of wide-area surveillance for defeating IED and other asymmetric threat networks.
The commanding general of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, the U.S. Army vice chief of staff and other senior Army science and technology leaders recognized the U.S. Army's "Top Ten Greatest Inventions of 2006 " in an awards ceremony 12 June 2007 at the Hyatt Crystal City Arlington, Va. The Army-wide awards program is dedicated to recognizing the best technology solutions for the Soldier. Nominations for the program were submitted from across the Army laboratory community, and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory's Constant Hawk was one of the winners.
In 2008 the NGA Interoperability Action Team (NIAT) personnel worked with the Constant Hawk program to define elements, data formats and metadata (information about the data) to enable Constant Hawk data to be shared across a broad range of systems. The NIAT continued to demonstrate the benefits of interoperability and standards through its work with the Motion Imagery Standards Board, a GWG focus group, to integrate Constant Hawk data into the full-motion video architecture.
As the functional manager for geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) standards and architecture, NGA's Chief Information Officer (CIO) is committed to developing a standards-based enterprise architecture for the National System for Geospatial Intelligence (NSG). Without adherence to standards, data cannot be readily shared across different systems. Standards enable rapid deployment of new technology into existing systems and allow support for future complex requirements. In 2008, the Office of the CIO continued to work with standards experts and program managers to reduce the time required for systems to become operational, as well as improve the effectiveness of new technology while reducing costs.
Under the Office of the CIO, the National Center of Geospatial Intelligence Standards (NCGIS) is responsible for standards management for the NSG and champions the importance of data interoperability and standards. The NCGIS provides oversight to many working forums, such as the Geospatial Intelligence Standards Working Group (GWG), where NSG representatives exchange ideas and resolve issues surrounding standards. A close partner of the GWG, the NGA Interoperability Action Team (NIAT) promotes the GEOINT data interoperability necessary for any analyst across the NSG to fully exploit data regardless of the source. The NIAT team works with standards experts and systems program managers to provide support in integrating capabilities between different systems by identifying the appropriate standards.
The Constant Hawk - Afghanistan system was first fielded in 2009 to support counter-IED operations in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom - Afghanistan. As of June 2010, Constant Hawk was fielded as a quick reaction capability niche system deployed in the Central Command area of operations.
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