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Imagery Reconnaissance

Technological advances in weaponry and communications continue to drive the need for NATO forces to field responsive ISR assets that possess capabilities for interoperability. Rapid and accurate collection, exploitation, and dissemination of relevant information are vital to achieving operational objectives.

NATO previously addressed interoperability among film-based imaging systems in a series of STANAGs. As NATO reconnaissance systems transitioned from film to electronic systems, interoperability issues became much more complex. The original NATO reconnaissance cross-servicing requirement required each NATO nation to be able to prepare an air platform for a reconnaissance mission as well as process and exploit the data collected during the mission. With film systems interoperability basically involved standardizing on the film and film processing specifications. The exploitation of film was essentially a manual process using manual tools. With standardizedtasking and exploitation procedures (STANAG 3596) and standardized products (STANAG 3377), theexploitation cross-servicing of reconnaissance imagery was essentially a straightforward procedure

One of the advantages of electronic imagery is the potential for the use of electronic tools to manipulate, modify, enhance, measure and report. Even though the process for the exploitation ofelectronic imagery is basically the same as for film, the tools to assist the interpreter are being implemented in software. Another advantage of electronic imagery is the ability to electronically transmit the imagery to another location. The use of electronic data links enabled the imagery to be exploited even before the air platform returned to base. In addition, airborne systems would record the imagery on electronic recorders and transfer the recorded medium to a ground station for replay. Sowe now see a possibility for many different electronic: imagery formats, transmission techniques, recording mediums, and processing tools.

The NATO Interoperability Design Study was conducted in the early 1990s to investigate ways to enable interoperability of electronic systems. One of the approaches considered was to mandate that all nations procure and operate the same systems. However, it was emphasised at this time that NATO could not mandate interoperability of national reconnaissance systems, but that interoperability among national systems would be purely voluntary. It was not considered a good idea to have one contractor monopolise the reconnaissance systems in NATO. Instead, a comparison was drawn between communications between reconnaissance systems and computer-to-computer communications. By carefully defining an interface between two computers users can be assured of a successful exchange of data between them. The analogy was drawn to reconnaissance systems by standardizing on an interface between the air platform and ground station.

By defining a common interface between the air and ground systems, each nation would beable to build their own systems and enable data interchange (i.e. cross servicing) through this commoninterface of the mixed systems during joint operations. The following efforts in AG IV to promote electronic interoperability were to develop STANAGs for: the sensor data (STANAG 7023), the tape recorder (STANAG 7024), and the wireless data link (STANAG 7085). This original 1990's NATO Imagery Interoperability Architecture concept reflected the technologies of the time.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 02:50:32 ZULU