1997 Congressional Hearings
Intelligence and Security





Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, it is a pleasure to have the opportunity to appear before you to discuss the Departmentís airborne reconnaissance acquisition and technology efforts. I have a brief statement prepared which I would like to present to the Subcommittee.

The Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Office

I am the Director of the Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Office (DARO), an arm of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition & Technology). By the charter of the DARO, I am the principal advisor to the USD(A&T) for airborne reconnaissance. On behalf of the USD(A&T) and in coordination with the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence (ASD(C3I)), the DARO exercises oversight of the Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Program (DARP), a $2.1 billion program in FY98 comprised of joint and defense-wide airborne reconnaissance programs. The DARO develops the Departmentís airborne reconnaissance architecture, strategy and vision, and has programmatic responsibility for the DARP in order to connect our vision with viable implementation plans. Major programmatic decisions, however, are made by the Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Steering Committee (DARSC) which is chaired by the USD(A&T) and the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (VCJCS), and has representation from other OSD offices such as ASD (C3I), the Services, and Defense Agencies. This ensures that all major decisions on airborne reconnaissance are corporate decisions, agreed to by the Department of Defense as a whole, rather than by any single entity or interest.

The DARO routinely interfaces with other organizations such as OASD(C3I), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA), the National Security Agency (NSA), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO), the Joint Staff and the Services. A number of mechanisms exist to facilitate this interaction, namely the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) and its UAV Special Studies Group, the Joint Warfighting Capabilities Assessment (JWCA) study teams, and, of course, the DARSC. In addition, the DARO leverages a Program Review Steering Council, a review board made up of flag officers that provides recommendations to the Director on programmatic matters. Joint efforts between DARO and these organizations include modeling and simulation efforts, technology initiatives and requirements analysis. In summary, these organizations have helped us by framing airborne reconnaissance issues, evaluating operations, and proposing recommendations.

The Department created the DARO in November 1993, in part at the urging of the Congress, to address the fragmentation of responsibilities for airborne reconnaissance among the Services and Defense Agencies that produced conflicting architectures, and hindered the acquisition of joint and interdependent programs and precluded tradeoffs. The DARO provides the leadership in development of a DoD-wide airborne reconnaissance architecture. In addition, the DARP enables centralized technology development, which avoids costly Service duplication. Of great importance is the fact that the DARP leads to interoperability and commonality via a series of cross-Service programs including the Common Imagery Ground/Surface System (CIGSS), the Common Data Link (CDL), the Joint Airborne SIGINT Architecture (JASA), and common UAV control system programs such as the Tactical Control System (TCS).

Maintaining Information Dominance

The Department has placed this focus on airborne reconnaissance because it is an essential element of our efforts to provide warfighters with battlespace information dominance. It is at the very core of the current Revolution in Military Affairs, in which we are leveraging information as never before. In Joint Vision 2010 the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) recognizes information dominance as the critical enabler for the operational concepts of dominant maneuver, precision engagement, full dimensional protection, and focused logistics.

The transformation in the use of information technology manifested itself for the first time during Operation DESERT STORM. Our performance in that operation shocked the world and gave us a glimpse at the military potential of information dominance and precision weapons. That war changed the way we envision the future of warfare, and there is no going back. Information will not only revolutionize the way America fights, but the way our competitors will fight as well. In addition, other nations will have an easier road than we have had. They will be able to apply lessons we have learned. They will be able to leverage commercial imagery and communications architectures without needing to develop their own. Furthermore, other nations will leverage systems developed by the US military, namely the Global Positioning System, while incurring no development or maintenance costs. Fighting wars the way we fought the last one will not be good enough in the future. Rather, to maintain information dominance on the battlefield of the future, we must continue both to maintain our current manned airborne reconnaissance systems and leverage new technologies such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), advanced sensors, telecommunications, stealth and precision guided weapons.

An additional facet of this revolution is a change in the way we conduct our wars. In Bosnia, the CINC is using information assets to provide a much more accurate and timely picture of the situation not only to him, but to the lower echelons. ìWe are learning a great deal about how to put an umbrella over an operation,î GEN Joulwan, Commander in Chief of US European Command, has said. ìWe have been able to use the UAVs, Joint STARS and Airborne Reconnaissance Low in a comprehensive way, in an integrated way.î The US military is learning about how to best use the growing potential of information dominance in Bosnia today, and their ability to leverage that dominance will grow in the future. Army Chief of Staff GEN Reimer has stated that information systems which improve situational awareness have increased the lethality of our armed forces. ìSituational awareness is changing the way the Army fights,î he said.

In addition to their use in the Bosnian theater, new concepts for application of information assets are being assessed in a variety of exercises and demonstrations. Seven of the twenty-five approved Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrations (ACTDs) focus on information technology. Through these demonstrations, we are putting new information capabilities in the hands of the warfighters to let them determine how the assets are best used. Information dominance concepts are also being explored in demonstrations such as Army After Next and Task Force XXI, and at facilities such as the new Air Force UAV Battle Lab at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida and the Joint UAV Training Center at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

Information dominance, as described in Joint Vision 2010, is a concept that is very familiar to the DARO. It is similar to the concept of extended reconnaissance which I have mentioned to this committee in the past, and which is the underlying goal within our Integrated Airborne Reconnaissance Strategy -- developed three years ago by the DARO. Extended reconnaissance is the ability to supply responsive and sustained intelligence data from anywhere within enemy territory, day or night, regardless of weather, as the needs of the warfighter dictate. This remains the DAROís primary goal. Airborne reconnaissance assets are critical to provide battlespace information dominance to the warfighter, enabling a reconnaissance flexibility which is essential to support a nation with global interests and responsibilities. Employing airborne reconnaissance assets provides the capability to dwell, focusing on the battlefield or other key areas to provide continuous situational awareness to commanders. Our Objective Architecture is designed to realize the potential of an interoperable, responsive airborne reconnaissance force, and we are determined to achieve it to ensure continued information dominance to the warfighter.

Achieving the Objective Architecture

During DESERT STORM, it became clear that information superiority minimizes casualties while maximizing the effectiveness of our armed forces. However, it also highlighted many shortfalls in our intelligence architecture. Many of the systems used in the operation were not interoperable, and this hindered the delivery of intelligence to the warfighters who needed it. Our limited ability to retrieve previously collected intelligence made it easier to retask the platform than to find the product in the theater database. The need for a long endurance, broad area coverage reconnaissance capability was highlighted by the significant number of U-2 aircraft we had to employ to maintain relatively few orbits. It became clear that the Department needed to develop a focused response to these needs to enable it to fully leverage airborne reconnaissance assets in future conflicts. This led to the creation of the DARO.

The DARO has established a vision for airborne reconnaissance based on extended reconnaissance, as described earlier. The Objective Architecture is an interoperable system of systems comprised of a balanced mix between manned and unmanned platforms, between imagery, signals and other sensory data, and between airborne and national assets, all supported by an efficient global information infrastructure, with emphasis on timely delivery of intelligence from sensor to shooter. The farther we move along this path, the more we enable the warfighter.

At this point Iíd like to discuss a few key themes that I believe are essential to achieving our Objective Architecture.

Interoperability and Open Systems

First, the DoD is committed to an Objective Architecture comprised of interoperable and common systems. Over the past three years, the DARO has been working to break down the stovepipes that existed in the past, to create a true system of systems which allows each element of the airborne reconnaissance force to leverage the others. This increases the flexibility and effectiveness of each element of the force structure while achieving real cost savings.

The ìopen systemsî approach encourages interoperability through open standards, while not mandating specific hardware solutions. The Department advocates commonality when possible, allowing it to leverage economies of scale and to make equipment more supportable. Using this concept, we are also leveraging improvements to existing airborne reconnaissance systems to reduce risk for new ones. An example of this is the commonality between the U-2 ASARS Improvement Program and the Global Hawk radar, which are 80-90 percent common. The DARO has embraced the ASD(C3I)ís Joint Technical Architecture (JTA) and has produced an Airborne Reconnaissance Information Technical Architecture (ARITA) which outlines widely accepted (primarily commercial) standards and will be included as an annex to the JTA later this year. This guidebook addresses the range of capabilities across the spectrum of disciplines which comprise our systems - from sensors to communications to computer processing of data - from traditional imagery to video to signals intelligence, and beyond. We are currently soliciting feedback on the ARITA from both industry -- especially the commercial sector -- and government.

The DARO continues to emphasize interoperability initiatives, as evidenced by our continued commitment to programs such as CIGSS, JASA and CDL. With CIGSS, we are updating existing imagery ground stations to ensure interoperability and common standards. Furthermore, current developments are being designed to work together. The Tactical Control System (TCS) is being developed compliant with JTA and ARITA standards, assuring UAV and product interoperability and utility among multiple operational users. Similarly, the Joint SIGINT Avionics Family (JSAF), the initial implementation of JASA, is a modular, scaleable family of sensors which will enable future SIGINT platforms to work together to accomplish their missions.

The Future Manned / Unmanned Mix

The Department has focused a great deal of attention on the balance between manned and unmanned platforms, and what the appropriate balance will be in the future. The DARO is pursuing a balanced mix of manned and unmanned platforms. Currently the airborne reconnaissance force is predominantly manned, while potentially high payoff UAVs are under development. Manned reconnaissance systems continue to account for the lionís share of the DARP for FY 98. Before the Department will incorporate these developmental UAVs into the force structure, these new systems will have to demonstrate military utility in the hands of warfighters. The Predator UAV system is an example of one that has. The Predator has demonstrated utility after several successful deployments as part of its Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD), and is transitioning to operational status. In fact, Predator has accumulated over 5,000 flight hours since contract award in January 1994. Analyses such as the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Joint Warfighter Capabilities Assessment (ISR JWCA) and the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) will provide further assessments of the value of manned versus unmanned airborne collection platforms for the 21st century.

We are examining developmental UAVs like Outrider (tactical), DarkStar (low observable) and the Global Hawk (high altitude endurance) because they have several appealing features. For example, our tactical UAVs are smaller and more deployable than traditional manned aircraft, allowing more control by the lower echelons of real time information sources. Endurance UAVs will exploit the absence of onboard crews by taking advantage of their ability to stay on station for more than a day. I believe this endurance capability will prove valuable in a number of mission applications. As with any new basic capability, we will find innovative ways to exploit it to our advantage. Some of these ideas are already being investigated, such as the use of the UAV to host an airborne communications node. This concept enables the creation of a relatively low cost, modern communications network enveloping the battlefield. This could also apply to any localized geographical problem area where high demand, ready access communications are required, such as a natural disaster.

Finally, the cost of these systems is also attractive, as they promise significant life-cycle cost savings. Yet another advantage is that the loss of a vehicle does not endanger a pilot. To see the importance of this, compare the reaction to the loss of Scott OíGradyís F-16 and to the loss of a Predator UAV in Bosnia. It bears repeating, though, that UAVs will need to continue to prove themselves before they are integrated into the force structure. We will not trade off a proven system for an unproven one.

SIGINT Modernization

In the Spring of 1996, a series of meetings were held by the Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Steering Committee on the Joint Airborne SIGINT Architecture (JASA) and the future of airborne SIGINT. The Services developed a ìmoderate paceî plan presented at DARSC X, maintaining a balance between sustainment and modernization of the airborne reconnaissance SIGINT fleet. The DARSC selected the modular, scaleable Joint SIGINT Avionics Family (JSAF) as the initial implementation of JASA. This modernization strategy, which was adopted and endorsed by the DARSC and the JROC, is based on an incremental approach that phases in affordable capability over time. The approach prioritizes SIGINT capabilities based on NSA threat projections. The Department will develop individual platform modernization plans based on current capabilities and fiscal constraints (i.e., FY98-03 POM). The DARSC decision calls for no transfer of funds between Services, but requires each Service to provide partial funding in the FY98-03 POM for JSAF upgrades. We have adopted sequential funding for JSAF systems to provide an achievable and affordable modernization approach within Service resource constraints.

It is important for you to recognize why this effort is such a high priority. The JSAF will provide a cost effective solution to eliminating the lack of interoperability that is prevalent in current airborne SIGINT systems due to the stovepiped architecture that we employed in the past. JSAFís digital infrastructure and standards-based open systems approach readily leverage advances in commercial technology and standards, provide a disciplined environment for JSAF development that will foster lower life cycle costs, mitigate technical risk, and ensure interoperability at all system levels. In addition, JASA facilitates keeping pace with the ever-changing threat and explosive communications technology environments through time-phased additions and upgrades to system capabilities. JSAFís digital infrastructure is designed to host JASA-compliant commercial and special purpose hardware, and reusable COTS/GOTS software, in a ìplug and playî approach that allows realization of required performance improvements through enhancement rather than replacement of earlier system implementations. Moreover, software changes made to keep abreast of rapidly changing threats will be readily distributed throughout the SIGINT fleet. In addition, JSAFís hardware and software modularity and reconfigurability, and standards driven architecture will serve to simplify operations, maintenance, and logistics tasks that have, up to this time, limited the operational flexibility of SIGINT systems to the warfighter and consumed a high logistics support budget.

In summary, with the JASA/JSAF development, we are embarking on a new way of doing business. We are implementing streamlined acquisition procedures to get needed capabilities to the warfighter quickly, and we are leveraging developments within the commercial sector to give the benefits of technology to the warfighter sooner. The success of JASA/JSAF depends on the cooperative efforts of all parties involved - the Services, Agencies, Industry, and Congress.

Acquisition Reform

Acquisition reform is key to the continuing affordable modernization of the force in this era of limited financial resources, and the DARO is involved across a spectrum of these initiatives today. The most obvious example is our Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrations (ACTDs), specifically in the area of UAVs. The Predator UAV, in fact, is the first ACTD to be successfully completed and is transitioning to operational status. The key to ACTDs can be seen in this example: the warfighter has had the ability to handle a prototype and identify its utility in operational scenarios. As we proceed to further production, newer models will be augmented by necessary P3I upgrades identified by the warfighters. In essence, the warfighters are determining how to configure the system they operate. This was only possible because they were able to use the system before it went to production.

Furthermore, we are attempting to lower the cost of ownership. Outsourcing looks very attractive for certain activities (e.g. maintenance). We are presently undertaking a study to determine if in fact outsourcing results in a significant savings compared to organic support. In addition, we have leveraged our open systems concepts to transition sensor technology from one program to another, e.g. the U-2 ASARS Improvement Program (AIP) has helped us reduce risk on the Global Hawk. DARO programs are also leveraging Service acquisition reform -- the most notable example being that JSAFís Low Band Subsystem is being procured as one of the Air Forceís ìLightning Boltî initiatives.

The FY98 Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Program (DARP)

The DARP looks a little different this year than it has in the past. It has the same systems, but this year, at the request of Congress, weíve broken it down into six separate program elements to facilitate oversight. The six program elements are Tactical UAVs, Endurance UAVs, Manned Reconnaissance Systems, Airborne Reconnaissance Advanced Development, Distributed Common Ground Systems, and DARP Integration and Support. In addition, weíve transferred UAV procurement funds out of defense-wide into Service accounts, though keeping the funds within the DARP. This creates a similar management structure for mature UAVs as we have for manned reconnaissance platforms such as the U-2 or RIVET JOINT.

Figure 1: Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Program

The breakout of the DARP is shown in Figure 1. Manned reconnaissance systems comprise the largest share of the DARP, consisting of $967 million of the $2.1 billion request. For DARP UAV efforts, in comparison, the Department is requesting $502 million ($333 million for endurance UAVs and $169 million for tactical UAV programs). We are continuing our investment in ground stations with $396 million, and we are devoting $213 million to advanced development technology efforts. This year, per Congressional request, we have broken out our DARP Integration and Support funds into a separate Program Element (they had been embedded in program budgets), and it is funded at a level of $21 million. Our budget has been constructed to balance readiness and modernization. Below, I highlight several key steps we will be taking with our airborne reconnaissance systems.

Manned Reconnaissance

The highlights of our FY98 manned reconnaissance programs include:

  • Begin procurement of improved ASARS for U-2
  • Continue U-2 re-engining program (Complete in 1QFY99)
  • Delivery of RIVET JOINT 15 & 16
  • RIVET JOINT re-engining begins (occurs in FY98, uses FY96-7 funds)
  • Install Sensor System Improvement Program (SSIP) in six EP-3 aircraft

The DARO exercises oversight over manned systems which address joint or multi-Service missions. These are programmed within the DARP, though Service specific systems are included within the airborne reconnaissance architecture. We are continuing to put considerable effort into sustaining these systems, as they will continue to provide the bulk of our airborne reconnaissance force for many years to come.

The fleet of 35 U-2 aircraft is in excellent shape and continues to be upgraded. The first 22 re-engined U-2s (designated the U-2S model) have been delivered, and the program is on schedule to be complete 1QFY99. All U-2 overseas operations now fly the re-engined aircraft. Ongoing sensor upgrades will also allow the U-2 to continue to keep up with emerging threats and increase the U-2ís direct support to the warfighter. These efforts include the Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar System 2 (ASARS 2) Improvement Program (AIP) and multispectral upgrades to the Senior Year Electro-optical Reconnaissance System (SYERS). As I indicated earlier, many of these improvements have a direct, positive impact on the rapid successful fielding of capable UAV systems.

The purchase of RIVET JOINT aircraft 15 and 16 in FY 1997 with delivery in FY 1998 will allow more flexible and responsive support. Additionally, the added aircraft will provide air crews better training continuity and help reduce our personnel tempo (PERSTEMPO). Last year, Congress provided additional funds to continue the RIVET JOINT re-engining effort and purchase four additional engine kits (for a total of six). Although there are no specific procurement funds requested in this yearís budget request for additional engines, the Air Force will continue work on non-recurring engineering development efforts and installation of the engine kits already purchased.

The Navyís EP-3E fleet is in the final phase of the Conversion-In-Lieu-Of-Procurement (CILOP) program which converts low-hour P-3C aircraft to the EP-3E ARIES II configuration. Eleven ARIES II aircraft have been delivered to the fleet and the remaining one will be delivered in July. The EP-3E is receiving communications upgrades as part of the Sensor System Improvement Program (SSIP). SSIP is designed to exploit future threats by enhancing communications connectivity and joint interoperability. The first SSIP kit has been installed and is undergoing developmental testing at NAS Patuxent River, MD. The entire fleet will be SSIP configured by 1999. The EP-3E is the prototype platform for the JSAF high band testing with the first flight scheduled for the fall of 1997.

The SR-71 reconnaissance program consists of two SR-71A operational aircraft and an SR-71B trainer aircraft that is shared with NASA. The SR-71 was reactivated at Congressional direction in FY95 to provide a reconnaissance capability in a high-threat contingency environment. A ìClip-In-Kitî (CIK) has been developed to replace the older Operational Deployable Processing System (ODPS) used to process SR-71 ASARS 1 data. The ODPS was housed in three 8í x 22í vans. The CIK is approximately podium sized and has been integrated into the Armyís ETRAC for exercise participation. The SR-71 is not funded beyond FY97.

Unmanned Reconnaissance

The highlights of our FY98 unmanned reconnaissance programs include:

  • Procure three additional Predator systems
  • Begin P3I on Predator for integration of de-icing system, voice communications capability between Predator pilot and air control, and an improved IFF system.
  • Conduct exercises and demonstrations for both the TUAV and HAE ACTDs
  • Complete DarkStar dynamic observables testing
  • Install UCARS on all nine Pioneer systems

Development of tactical UAVs to support joint warfighters continues to be the Servicesí top UAV priority. To satisfy this critical need, the Department approved initiation of a Tactical UAV (TUAV) ACTD to meet the Joint Services requirements. The TUAV ACTD is progressing, but technical and hardware problems in the development of the Outrider air vehicle delayed the first flight originally scheduled for November 1996 to 7 March 1997.

The development of a Tactical Control System (TCS) is well underway. The TCS is a Department initiative to provide warfighters with an interoperable and scaleable command, control, communications, and data dissemination system for the family of Tactical UAVs and a capability to receive and disseminate data from the High Altitude Endurance UAVs. TCS will satisfy the critical interoperability requirements of the Joint Services. Recent TCS participation in the Force XXI exercise successfully demonstrated TCS capability to receive information from multiple UAVs. The Joint Requirements Oversight Council endorses a common modular and scaleable ground station for all tactical UAVs.

The Pioneer UAV continues to provide Fleet support to the US Marine Corps and the US Navy after ten years of proven success. The Navy Pioneer systems completed deployments on the USS Shreveport and the USS Austin in the Mediterranean Sea and the USS Denver in the Western Pacific. In addition, the Marine Corps deployed to Bosnia to provide dedicated reconnaissance support to the ground forces. Other activity included deployments to provide drug interdiction and to support various exercises. The Department has recently increased programmed Pioneer funding to ensure system readiness at current levels through FY03.

The Hunter UAV has enjoyed considerable success since returning to flight in December 1995. Although DoD decided to allow the Hunter contract to expire after delivery of the Low-Rate Production Systems, Hunter UAVs have continued to fly supporting Concept of Operations development, exercise support and payload demonstrations. The Hunter system has accumulated over 2000 flight hours and has participated in several warfighter training events, including Force XXI exercises at the National Training Center.

The Predator Medium Altitude Endurance UAV has continued to excel, especially in support of our forces deployed in Bosnia. Based in Taszar, Hungary, the Predator, now designated the RQ-1A, has been employed to image areas of interest by warfighters throughout the chain of command. Predatorís utility has obviated the need for constant patrolling by our forces in areas of concern, thereby limiting danger to our troops in theater.

Predatorís ACTD ended on June 30, 1996. Because of its proven record of performance throughout the demonstration period, Predator is transitioning to a formal acquisition program while being operated by the USAF 11th Reconnaissance Squadron. A marinization study completed this year indicates a naval variant of the Predator air vehicle is technically feasible, yet not fiscally possible at this time due to costs in modifying both the air vehicle as well as the hosting ship. The capability of Predator launched from the shore to support naval forces was demonstrated during an SSN demonstration conducted off the coast of California last year in support of a SEAL team exercise as well as with an aircraft carrier task force as demonstrated in December 1995. Additionally, an Echelon Below Corps exercise was conducted in Bosnia during November where the Predator was tasked and directed by the US division commander, again providing support to a tactical commander. Throughout its 5,200+ flight hours history, Predator has demonstrated its utility at both the theater and tactical levels of operations and continues to provide outstanding service in support of the warfighter.

As Predator transitions to a formal acquisition program in FY97, improvements in the form of in-flight de-icing equipment, an air vehicle-mounted voice radio capability, and an improved Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) system will be integrated. Our goal is to provide these increased mission essential capabilities to our operating forces in 1998.

The High Altitude Endurance (HAE) ACTD consists of two complementary types of air vehicles, the Global Hawk and the low-observable DarkStar, and a ground segment that is common and interoperable with both air vehicles. The goal of this ACTD is to demonstrate an effective solution to a theater commanderís need for near-real-time reconnaissance of broad areas (Global Hawk) and high-value, well defended targets (DarkStar), all with firm cost objectives. We are recovering well from last yearís DarkStar mishap. We know the causes and are implementing modifications in flight software and landing gear systems. An independent review team of outside experts has overseen each course of action. DarkStar flight testing will resume in late summer. Global Hawk has passed the final design review. The first air vehicle made its public debut in a roll out ceremony in February. Global Hawk will begin taxi tests late this summer and flight tests in the fall. This yearís budget request will provide sufficient funds to continue air vehicle testing, award an operational user demonstration agreement and continue fabrication of the ACTD air vehicles. The need for HAE platforms to fulfill our deep reconnaissance, long endurance reconnaissance requirement enjoys the continued support of the CINCs. Additionally these platforms are envisioned by the ongoing C4ISR Mission Assessment and the ongoing Quadrennial Defense Review to meet collection needs well into the next century in a complimentary mix with manned aircraft.

Distributed Common Ground Systems

The highlights of our FY98 Distributed Common Ground System programs include:

  • Test Common Imagery Processor (CIP) within Common Imagery Ground/Surface System (CIGSS) Testbed with U-2, ATARS and HAE
  • Begin fielding the CIPs and Imagery Product Libraries within operational CIGSS systems
  • Complete Deployable Ground System (DGS) Mission Intelligence System (MIS) upgrade and JSIPS Block 3 upgrades
  • Field Multispectral Imagery (MSI) exploitation and reporting capability within DGS 1/2

A major DARO success is the migration toward a common, interoperable, open systems ground systems architecture known as the Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS). The DCGS provides a scaleable, modular, and multi-intelligence system capable of receiving, processing, exploiting, and disseminating information from both airborne and national sensors. The DCGS architecture assures our processing, exploitation, and dissemination systems capable of supporting the information needs of the Joint Warfighter, is integrated with all reconnaissance assets, and is seamlessly integrated into the Joint C4I environment. Operation JOINT ENDEAVORís Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) is currently being supported by elements of DCGS employed at Rimini and Vicenza, Italy, with the bulk of the reach back capability provided from assets located at Beale AFB, CA.

The DARO manages 13 separate types of ground system programs, sustains 21 operational systems, and is in the process of fielding an additional 36 systems, the bulk of which will be integrated on aircraft carriers and amphibious landing ships. The DARO recently initiated the Common Imagery Processor (CIP) program, a major interoperability breakthrough which will allow the receipt and processing of all airborne imagery transmitted via the Common Data Link (CDL) and outputs imagery compatible with United States Imagery and Geospatial Systems (USIGS) standards. The DARO fielded the CIGSS Testbed to serve as a interoperability development tool for use by Service reconnaissance development programs and it has provided critical support to the Navy TAC RECCE program. Early next year the CIGSS Testbed will support the High Altitude Endurance (HAE) UAV flight testing programs. We are continuing to work in close partnership with the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) to transfer to NIMA responsibility for CIGSS standards as the DARO continues to champion and support the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) needs of the Joint Warfighter.

Insofar as the DCGS is a multi-intelligence architecture, the DARO is working with the Services and Agencies to migrate existing SIGINT capability to common baseline consistent with Joint Airborne SIGINT Architecture (JASA) derived standards for processing, exploitation and dissemination. Both JASA and CIGSS provide an open systems foundation for interoperability and information exchange consistent with the Joint Technical Architecture and Defense Information Infrastructure (DII) Common Operating Environment (COE). The JASA and CIGSS architectures form the foundation for integrating ACTD developed technologies such as the Semi-Automated IMINT Processor (SAIP), High Altitude Endurance (HAE) Common Ground Segment and the Tactical Control System (TCS) into the DAROís objective ground systems architecture.

Advanced Development

The highlights of our FY98 advanced development programs include:

  • Operational deployment of the JASA High Band Prototype
  • Completion of Predator UAV video upgrades
  • Completion and evaluation of high resolution framing cameras
  • First flight of the U-2 SYERS P3I
  • Tactical CDL contract award

The Joint SIGINT Avionics Family (JSAF) is an evolutionary acquisition program which is building the elements necessary to implement the Joint Airborne SIGINT Architecture (JASA). The JASA Standards Handbook (JSH), Version 1.0, published in July 1996, defines JASA and the standards to support JSAF implementation. The JSH lays a foundation for the migration of current systems and development of DAROís Objective Architecture of interoperable SIGINT systems. The High Band Prototype (HBP), predecessor to the High Band Subsystem (HBSS) planned procurement in CY97, is completing its factory integration phase with government-witnessed factory acceptance tests scheduled for March 1997. An operational deployment on a Navy EP-3E is scheduled for mid-1998. The JSAF Low Band Subsystem (LBSS) competitive procurement was initiated in 1996, with a contract award on January 24, 1997.

The DARO continues to invest in low-to-medium risk technologies to enhance our airborne reconnaissance capability. The programs initiated and executed by the DARO provide: enhanced performance of existing reconnaissance platforms; better target detection and exploitation; and improved geolocation accuracy for targeting. When feasible, the DARO has leveraged the substantial commercial and other government investment in advanced sensors, compression, and imagery display and exploitation. These programs have been prioritized in coordination with the JROC and multiple technology review groups, including DARPA, NIMA, NRO, NSA, and NASA.

In a continuing effort to enhance the operational effectiveness of our existing reconnaissance assets, the DARO has initiated programs to incorporate new technologies into the platforms. Examples include:

  • Predator Video Upgrade: This effort enhances image quality, minimizes motion-induced artifacts, improves night and cold weather performance, automatically tracks moving vehicles, and improves data archiving and storage capabilities. Completion is expected in FY98.
  • High Resolution Framing Cameras: the DARO will initiate an infrared framing camera this year and evaluate its performance in late FY98. We will also complete the 100 megapixel camera in FY98. This provides the basis for a family of new airborne reconnaissance cameras for tactical forces. We are working with NIMA to develop compression and format standards.
  • Heavy Fuel Engines: the DARO has initiated a program to develop engines that can operate with heavy fuels which will allow for greatly simplified logistics and transportability.
  • Intelligent Bandwidth Compression: A DARO/DARPA program seeks to reduce synthetic aperture radar collection bandwidth requirements by identifying regions of interest within a scene, downlinking just those portions with high resolution, and transmitting the rest at lower resolution. Extension of this work to visible and infrared sensors is being explored.

Target detection and characterization are critical missions for DARO. With the adversaryís deployment of camouflage, concealment, and deception (CC&D), these missions become increasingly difficult. Examples of efforts to counter CC&D include:

  • SYERS P3I: This program is designed to provide very high spatial resolution in six different spectral bands from the U-2 in order to enhance the U-2ís detection and discrimination of targets. The first flight of the SYERS P3I will occur in FY98.
  • Adaptive Spectral Reconnaissance Program (ASRP): The ASRP is designed to provide day/night detection of CC&D targets as well as targets in a highly cluttered background (e.g., an urban environment). The DARO (with DARPA and CMO) will fly a manned testbed version in FY98 to prove the technique and a Predator UAV version by FY00.
  • Moving Target Exploitation: The DARO, in a joint program with DARPA, is developing tools and processing techniques to better exploit Moving Target Indication (MTI) radar which will be deployed on JSTARS, U-2 ASARS, ARL and future HAE UAVs.

Determining accurate geolocation coordinates for a detected target is critical for hand-off to precision guided munitions. DARO is investing in several programs to enhance this capability. Example programs include:

  • RF Tags: Under this DARO/DARPA program, two prototype miniature RF tags were built and successfully tested in FY97. These tags are ìsmartî transponders and respond with ID and geolocation when interrogated by an external radar (e.g., JSTARS). In FY98 the program will emphasize lower cost, lightweight tags that provide minimal impact to radar image fidelity.
  • GPS Pseudolites: This concept, developed with DARPA, will provide protection against GPS jamming by adding payloads to Global Hawk UAVs that enable rapid acquisition of the broadcast signal outside of jamming range. UAVs can then be networked to rebroadcast the signal at higher power to battlefield receivers.

With the deployment of the Predator system to Bosnia, the DARO broke new ground in warfighter support by helping to put into place a system to disseminate the real-time video imagery to multiple locations in CONUS and EUCOM using the Joint Broadcast Service (JBS). The system includes a very small aperture terminal (VSAT) relay from the Predator ground station location in Hungary to the JBS injection site at Molesworth, UK. Broadcast data includes annotated video, as well as audio narration. JBS receive equipment has been installed at 20 fixed sites and on 6 ships. The JBS proves the military worth of broadcast systems to simultaneously disseminate large volumes of data simultaneously to many different sites in many different countries faster and at less cost to the DoD than multiple point-to-point circuits.

The DARO is the joint interoperability manager of the Common Data Link (CDL). CDL is an extremely successful program and has the distinction of being one of the only truly high speed digital data links in use by the DoD today, operating at up to speeds of 274 Megabits per second (Mbps) of data transfer. The DARO has initiated a streamlined acquisition experiment with DARPA to compete and develop a newer, open system, lower-cost, 10.7 Mbps version of the existing CDL equipment suitable for use by UAVs and larger manned aircraft. This new equipment, called Tactical CDL or TCDL, will increase the communications capabilities for Predator and Outrider UAV fleets at reduced costs to the DoD (order of magnitude less cost than full CDL capability). A TCDL RFP was released on March 4, 1997. Contract award is expected this summer.


As Secretary Cohen testified before the HNSC on February 12, 1997, UAVs are a critical part of our modernization requirement to expand and ensure battlespace dominance. Within the Department we have likewise emphasized broad support for our Integrated Airborne Reconnaissance Strategy. In fact, several DoD & Service Scientific Advisory Boards, Joint Chiefs of Staff assessments, Global Wargames (e.g., Army After Next) and special four-star reviews have all recommended a growing emphasis on a mix of manned and unmanned airborne reconnaissance systems to solve our emerging information dominance challenges. In addition, in the Army After Next exercise, high-altitude look/talk/shoot UAVs had an unexpectedly important role as stand-ins for some lost space capabilities. In his posture statement, GEN Shalikashvili said, ìDoD should move swiftly to evaluate the cost-saving tradeoffs between manned and UAV reconnaissance systems. I remain committed to fielding a UAV force that is interoperable among all Services as an important enhancement to warfighting capability.î The distinguishing line between military sensors and commercial technologies is becoming blurred, with many advanced sensors and technologies available commercially to potential opponents who will not have to incur significant development time and cost.

We have fashioned an airborne reconnaissance investment strategy for FY98 that clearly balances modernization and readiness. The challenge we face is to ensure our technological advantage is not diminished. We must downsize without downgrading our airborne reconnaissance capability. This focus on quality versus quantity will help us preserve the operational edge that will be required of all our future sensor and dissemination capabilities. Situational awareness is no longer a luxury, it is a right of passage. I ask the Subcommittee to give its continued support to DARO and to our Presidentís budget request.