The Shadow Harvest system was designed to provide obscured target mitigation via a rapidly tailorable multi-intelligence on-board package. The Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) validated the capability need for Shadow Harvest in FY08. The outcome of the Shadow Harvest Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) was to provide Combatant Commands an integrated, joint airborne capability to provide persistent surveillance to consistently, accurately and efficiently find, fix, track and target enemy assets obscured by weather, vegetation, camouflage, concealment and/or deception (CC&D). The program leveraged the Defense Intelligence Agency's (DIA) C-130-based Shadow Harvest program along with several maturing sensors and relevant networking/data fusion/recognition technologies.
DIA had developed the Shadow Harvest suite of sensors by testing them individually on a variety of government and contractor-owned aircraft, including the DC-3, C-130E and the C-130H. Mention was also made of tests of Shadow Harvest sensors on the "RB-57," but no such aircraft remained in the Department of Defense at the time of Shadow Harvest's development. It is possible that aircraft in question were the 2 WB-57Fs operated by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA's WB-57F had been spotted in Afghanistan as early as 2006. The stated mission was geological mapping, but it is possible that these aircraft could also have been used to test Shadow Harvest sensors.
The Shadow Harvest system utilized for the JCTD was to provide a timely and low cost C-130-based approach to integrate, operationally deploy, and demonstrate new sensor processing, exploitation, and dissemination (PED) capabilities into the intelligence production cycle and was expected to require fewer personnel, reduce or eliminate dependence on specialized collection platforms, mitigate the problems associated with equipment standardization and minimize the impact on the maintenance infrastructure. The goal of the JCTD was to transition a mature system, architectures, flexible adaptive concept of operations and platform, which would allow for flexible airborne remote sensing in a tactical or irregular warfare environment. Shadow Harvest would be compatible with intelligence community, Department of Defense and Combatant Commander requirements and would provide a rapid to-the-field development capability for future sensor systems.
The Shadow Harvest program as of FY08 was a 2-year project sponsored by US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), and the JCTD was scheduled to be complete by the end of FY09. It would then transition to selected Program Manager(s) / Program of Record(s) by FY12. The lead service was the US Air Force. The DIA was the lead agency responsible for organizing a multi-agency, multi-service team for the JCTD. The primary outputs and efficiencies of the JCTD Joint Military Utility Assessments were: (1) Conduct multiple airborne mission demonstrations against challenging CC&D/OTs using a tailorable C-130 multi-sensor system complete with on-board multi-phenomenology data fusion and ground PED; (2) Demonstrate and assess sensor cross-cueing/collaboration techniques for both baseline/new electro-optical/radar sensors and maturing MASINT sensors (to include low frequency/Multi-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (MB-SAR), and hyperspectral imaging (i.e., Spectral Infrared Remote Imaging Transition Testbed [SPIRITT]); (3) Demonstrate dynamic in-flight mission tasking against emerging/evolving target sets; (4) Publish an OUA of the capabilities demonstrated and develop joint concept of operations and tactics, techniques, and procedures for Combatant Commander target sets that would help the Major Commands to develop sensor-mix strategies for Combatant Commander target sets/missions and develop theater specific concept of operations to enable new collection capabilities to be integrated into the COCOM intelligence production cycle; (5) Maintain operation readiness, in flight status, for Extended Use of Residuals assets to include a DIA Shadow Harvest system available for USAF and DIA tasking until transition to a Program of Record.
In the summer of 2009, airmen from the Nevada Air National Guard's 152nd Airlift Wing began working with the Shadow Harvest program at Point Mugu Naval Air Station, California. At that time, members of the 152nd Intelligence Squadron conducted ground and flight tests with test pilots from the 339th Flight Test Squadron to determine the system's airworthiness and compatibility with existing aircraft. Other elements of the 152nd Airlift Wing and Nevada Air National Guard also assisted in the testing.
In 2010, the 152nd Airlift Wing deployed elements from the 152nd Intelligence Squadron and other units with the Shadow Harvest system to Afghanistan for an operational evaluation. The element was attached to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan for the deployment. The Shadow Harvest team collected a large amount of data per flight that required processing, exploitation, and dissemination. More than 12 people, including 6 analysts from the United Kingdom and members of 3 different intelligence agencies, operated around the clock to provide continuous analysis and ongoing productivity. The aircraft and crews flew hundreds of operational surveillance and reconnaissance missions during their 3-month deployment, supporting many organizations ranging from forward operating bases on the ground to the Pentagon. During the deployment, the unit produced well over 1,000 intelligence products directly for their clients, a remarkable amount for a single platform. The elements returned from the deployment in early September 2010.
A second operational deployment was conducted by the 152nd Intelligence Squadron in 2011, this time last almost 12 months.
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