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Image Product Archive [IPA]

The Image Product Archive (IPA) is was a Central Imagery Office sponsored effort to develop the standard United States Imagery System (USIS) product library system for imagery products and unexploited (raw) imagery. The initiative's two-year phase one, dubbed Pilot Accelerated Architecture Acquisition Initiative (A3I), focused on improving the ground-based infrastructure of the US imagery system for enhanced digital imagery request, distribution, and management for all echelons within the National and DOD IMINT community. The objective of the Pilot A3I is to quickly transition enhanced capabilities to the field to provide a basis for the USIS architecture of the future. IPA started as a Central Imagery Office (CIO) effort designed to provide a standardized archive for imagery and imagery product storage and retrieval by imagery consumers at the National, Theater, Force, and Unit levels.

As the Pilot A3I (PA3I) system matured, the Image Product Archive migrated to the Image Product Library (IPL). The Image Product Archive is now known as the Image Product Library and has become the military intelligence community's standard for cataloging and retrieving finished imagery products over a worldwide network.

The archive, developed by the Air Force's Rome Laboratory, will enable deployed military users to access an electronic inventory of imagery and imagery-derived products using commercial, off-the-shelf systems. This will improve the speed at which high-quality imagery is disseminated. The basic mission of the IPA is to maintain an archive of imagery and/or imagery products which is available to imagery customers throughout the world. To achieve that mission, IPA provides an automated capability to support the following activities:

a. Receive imagery and/or image products from multiple sources.

b. Maintain a database of imagery and/or image products.

c. Research imagery and/or image product holdings, to include IPA servers and IDEX II.

d. Transfer imagery and/or image products to imagery clients from sources including IPA servers, and IDEX II.

e. Transfer imagery and/or image products to remote locations using several formats and compression ratios.

The Image Product Archive (IPA) consists of an image server, disk farm, and terminals connected through an FDDI local area network. IPA provides the server and client software necessary to implement the IPA mission. It supports client searches for applicable imagery and image products, requests for one or more products, and maintains the status of those requests. It interfaces with other imagery sources (i.e., IESS and NDS for IDEX II imagery) for the client to conduct imagery holding queries and requests as well as subsequent delivery of imagery and/or image products.

At the highest level of abstraction, the imagery production process is similar for all types of imagery. Imagery data is collected (e.g., by satellite or airplane) and sent to an initial processor; from this processor the data is sent through a dissemination system to a library or database. The imagery files are copied from the database to an exploitation system where intelligence products are generated; the resulting imagery products are returned to the database. Authorized users can access the images they need from this database. This entire process takes place within SCI enclaves for most types of imagery, even though most imagery is at the Secret Collateral level.

The first IPA was opened at the Atlantic Intelligence Command in Norfolk, Va. Other Pilot implementation IPAs were installed at the US Central, Pacific and European Commands, as well as Building 213 and NMJIC in the Washington, DC, area, providing remote support at lower echelon commands. By the end of l996, the IPA was fielded worldwide. These IPAs are accessible through INTELINK and the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System. By employing common workstation technology, such as the Joint Deployable Intelligence Support System, operational elements at and below the joint task force level can tap into these IPAs as well. Plans also called for making the IPA available through additional workstation technology, including the Global Command and Control System.

The client-server based system was designed to support user queries/retrievals from either a local or remote IPA server based on an index scheme to intelligence entities (e.g., targets). The standard IPA also includes IESS and National Dissemination System (NDS) interfaces specifically to support the query and transfer of images from IDEX workstations and includes an IESS interface to support the query and transfer of imagery from the NIS. IPA also provides format conversion and data compression/decompression capabilities between NITF 1.1/2.0, TIFF, and Sun Raster formatted files. The IPA provides the capability to operate in either the DoD collateral (DSNET 1/SIPRNET) or SCI (DSNET 3/JWICS) security environments. Operation of the IPA in a collateral DSNET 1/SIPRNET environment with IESS at SCI requires multi-level security.

The Image Product Archive /Image Product Library (IPA/IPL) is the migration system to replace the legacy Demand Driven Direct Digital Dissemination (5D) System when delivered. By design, the IPA can be fielded in an incremental approach at lower and lower levels of operations resulting in greater improvement in imagery management and product flow to the warfighter. IPA allows visibility into and sharing of image products between different exploitation, production, and dissemination centers at DoD and National levels, expansion of the collection/production resources for satisfying requirements, and reduction in collection tasking efforts for data that already exists.

The production IPA did not support the Sun Raster or Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) which were supported during IPA pilot development. TIFF was developed by Microsoft and Aldus to store images in a machine independent way and has become a defacto standard, by virtue of its widespread use both in scanning and its import/export acceptance in commercial image analysis and enhancement applications. TIFF stores one image at a time in a tagged data block and then defines a linked list of tag blocks. This is different from the usage of headers, images and sub-images, annotations and metadata within the NITF format. For example, TIFF does not support annotations without overwriting the underlying information; consequently, it will not be used for imagery products and overlays disseminated over secondary channels.

Overall goals of the IPA program are:

  • Provide a capability to catalog/store files and metadata for a mix of raw images and image products from multiple sources and allow local and remote users to access these IPA files via a query and retrieval function.
  • Provide the capability for IPA users to query the Host Database Systems (HDBS), i.e. Image Exploitation Support System (IESS) or NPIC Data System (NDS), to determine IDEX II holdings, and support automated retrieval/transmission of images, sub-images, and Reduced Resolution Data Sets (RRDS) from IDEX II.
  • Implement and support the National Imagery Transmission Format (NITFS) 2.0 standard for transmission of image products.
  • Provide a client/server based architecture in accordance with DoDIIS standards, and develop a standard ICD/API document that describes the IPA client/server interface.

IPA Configuration:

  • IPA Server runs on DEC Alpha running DEC UNIX 2.0 and SUN Sparc running Solaris 2.5.1, SUN Sparc workstations, DEC Workstations and Hewlett Packard Workstations.
  • Interfaces to IDEX II, IESS, NDS, DSNET I, JWICS.
  • With IPA HTML Interface, support extends to any workstation/PC running a Mosaic or Netscape browser.


  • Receives and stores images and image products from IDEX II and other image product sources.
  • Supports single point, sequential, and simultaneous queries against IPA servers as well as HDBS (IESS or NDS) that are co-located with an IDEX II.
  • Supports distribution of image/image products via local LANs, and DSNET I or JWICS.

IPA development was a 36 month effort starting 1st quarter FY94.

The IPA HTML Browser Interface effort provides the Intelink Community with access to an IPA Server. The interface implements the IPA Server Application Programming Interface (API) to provide a gateway between an IPA Server and the Intelink supported "World Wide Web" tools and servers. The end result is that an Intelink user can use a WWW Browser (e.g., Mosaic or Netscape) to access an IPA Server from any platform that can support a Hypertext viewer, without the need for any other specialized software specific to the IPA Server Application. The current implementation has been tested with NCSA's Mosaic v2.4-7 for X-Window systems, v2.0 for Windows and Windows NT, and Netscape v1.1N and 2.0 for all platforms. The Interface is divided into four major section: Functions, Assistance, Training and Other.


  • NPIC
  • Intelligence and Threat Analysis Center (Army ITAC)
  • DIA
  • ACOM
  • Air Force 480th Intelligence Group
  • ONI
  • 26 Bosnia Command and Control Augmentation (BC2A) Initiative sites

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Page last modified: 28-07-2011 00:49:37 ZULU