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UAV - Turning raw data into intelligence


									                                      Turning raw data
                                into actionable intelligence

UAV and their sensors are only part of the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) "big picture".
Completing that concerns processing, storing and retrieving the data into actionable intelligence. Utilizing modern
commercial off the shelf (COTS) technology, sensor data can be rapidly processed. Correlated to geographical
grid, and merged with live and stored images, imagery and spatial information including EO, SAR, MTI maps,
SIGINT and ESM can be fused and presented over common map display, showing a detailed and accurate multi-
dimensional situational picture. The use of ISR products is not limited to intelligence analysts, but can also be
used by warfighters in the field, using tactical computer terminals and PDAs. Prior to delivery products are
trimmed, wrapped, and compressed to adapt to narrow-band wireless communications.

Presently, "stovepipe" systems are employed to provide intelligence. These include various airborne and ground
based sensors, such as Global Hawk and Predator UAVs, Joint STARS ground surveillance systems and various
ELINT/COMINT assets. Each system is operated separately, utilizing specific sensors, airborne and ground
based processing and exploitation systems. The refined intelligence is shared at a higher level, where it supports
operational planning and ongoing operations.
                                   Enhanced Vision Systems

By using state of the art technology, much of the information can be shared, fused and used to improve the final
product. For example, scanning a wide area for time critical targets cannot rely only on EO means alone. By
merging GMTI and Stripmap SAR images, wide areas can be scanned rapidly for moving targets, man-made
objects and potential targets. Such elements can be anything from a pick-up truck to a transportable missile
launcher. When potential targets are detected, Spot mode is used to automatically scan through each location in
an attempt to distinguish differently shaped targets such as a specific type of tank or truck. Known targets can be
tagged by their distinct signature, or actively marked for automatic detection and tracking. SAR imagery is
sufficient for identification of military targets, identifying the distinctive 3D signatures and object shapes of specific
vehicle types; further investigation of the target is required for engagement of typical targets in asymmetric

EO sensors are employed to further examine specific locations or suspicious objects detected by the radar. By
fusing SAR, IIR, thermal and EO images, analysts can now focus on the potential "needles", which automatic
processes have weeded out of the larger "haystack".

As all data is geo-referenced, target coordinates can be extracted immediately for rapid response. The fusion of
signals from different spectral bands enable better visualization of information which could be not be seen in by
visible means. The US Air Force pursues several Foliage Penetrating (FOPEN) concepts, including processing of
hyperspectral sensor data, for collection, location, and identification of camouflaged and concealed targets and
foliage penetrating SAR.

                                       Target Geolocation

Simple geolocation (currently supporting 90 and 30 meter positioning accuracy) could be sufficient for general
orientation but will not be suitable for targeting of GPS guided weapons, such as JDAM. This level of accuracy is
yet to be provided by unmanned systems. At present, the US Air Force is operating systems such as the Gridlock
advanced concept technology demonstrator, integrated with the Global Hawk system. Gridlock uses a high
precision navigation system generating a digital terrain database with 10 meter accuracy. Even these levels of
accuracy are insufficient for precision engagement by unmanned systems - future unmanned combat systems
will be required to deliver targeting accuracy of 1 – 3 meters.

Accurate location is not the only factor needed for precision engagement - cruise missiles, and EO guided
weapons such as Storm Shadow, Taurus 350 and SPICE requires precise and detailed imagery for navigation
and terminal guidance. Live video is required for "man in the loop" control of guided weapons, such as Hellfire
and SPIKE, to avoid fratricide and collateral damage. Users requiring such live imagery can link directly to the
sensor, using "tactical video receiver" which receives analog video streams. UAV images can be shared by
multiple users, including helicopter pilots, field commanders as well as dismounted troops. More advanced
systems enable active control of the payload.
                              Computer Mapping & Modeling

                                                    For hundreds of years, maps and cartography provided critical
                                                    means for command and decision support. Their value was derived
                                                    from the accuracy, timeliness and relevance of their data sets.
                                                    Maps are still valuable command tools, but today their production
                                                    is faster, the data is much more accurate and most important –
                                                    when embedded into digital processing and presentation
                                                    environment, they provide a common denominator for command
                                                    and control. With new technology geographical information
                                                    systems (GIS) are used to process sensor information; generate
                                                                                                 spatial presentation
                                                                                                 of        intelligence

Geospatial products are also used for                                                             presentation        of
terrain measurement data, as input from                                                           SAR, LIDAR and
LADAR       sensors     is     processed     and                                                  represented        as
realistic 3D models, used for operational                                                         planning. Rectified
over a common grid, ISR data can                                                                  automatically update
a situational picture, or further process it with                                                 satellite or aerial
imagery presenting realistic 3D models of an                                                      area,       including
updated man-made features. Such models                                                            are used for mission
planning and rehearsal, briefing on a                                                             synthetic      "sand-
                                         box",                                                    spatial   orientation
                                          and                                                     training.

                                          Geo-                                                  registration is an
                                        essential capability for advanced image processing. Images are referenced
                                        to a common geographical grid enabling detailed comparison between
                                        different views of the same area. In the past, such referencing was done in
                                        a manual, a time consuming process prone to human errors. Today, geo-
                                        registration automation is done in a real-time process, performed on still
                                        images, including SAR and GMTI, and most recently on live video. This
                                        capability enables endless ways to manipulate the images, by merging
                                        them into wide-area mosaics, morphing them to suite the proportions of 3D
                                        models, correcting optical and perspective distortions etc. Accurately
                                        registered into a common grid, images are fused into common views,
                                        providing stereoscopic views (depicting height and depth of objects) and
                                        true, dynamic 3D computer generated models and "fly through", which can
                                        be generated in few hours, rather than weeks, offering realistic views of an
                                        object from different angles.
                               Automatic Change Detection

An important feature of image processing is the comparison of new and stored images to detect changes over
time. This method is called Coherent Change Detection (CCD) and its uses are rapidly spreading throughout the
military. By comparing live images with past images of the same area, systems can automatically detect and
identify changes which can show placement of new objects such as hidden IEDs, faint signatures of recent
movement, such as vehicle tracks, changes in foliage indicating human movements, or application of camouflage
that could indicate suspicious activity. Through the image analysis and investigative process, these views can be
superimposed with thermal images, showing latent signatures of recent human activity. When searching for a
specific type of object, hyperspectral analysis can be performed, by dedicated sensors, which are designed to
identify specific traces of chemical or organic materials, by their distinctive spectral reflections.

Multi-spectral image fusing is also performed to enable target identification from very long range, particularly at
night. For example, combining Near IR (NIR) with TV overcomes the visual reflection from a car windshield, to
show people inside a car. Identifying these people from a long distance can be done by illuminating the target
with an invisible laser beam, and using a special telescopic "gated CCD" sensor to view the target in great

Progress is also evident in solving the "bandwidth bottleneck", transferring large files over communications
networks. The US Marine Corps are planning to field the Video Storage Wide Area Network, which collects and
provides information on situational awareness. The network uses multiple image collectors including Pioneer and
Scan Eagle UAVs. The ground stations of these UAVs are streaming live video over satellite communications to
a central repository which provides digitization, compression, editing and storage services. These video
databases are then made available to multiple users in theater as well as worldwide. While the system supports
multiple users and multiple streams, bandwidth availability becomes an issue when 128K "pipes" are used –
typical streaming video requires around 400-Kbps bandwidth, which is not always available for field users.
                         Convoy protection and IED patrols

Patrolling highways in hostile area, while protecting convoys is part of the regular mission of UAVs in Iraq.
Relying on continuous communications and positioning from blue force tracking systems, UAVs can cover a
convoy, controlled from ground control stations at distances of up to 100 km. However, a more suitable solution is
to use a small UAV loitering overhead, equipped with ground surveillance systems to monitor the area ahead of
the convoy forewarn ambushes or suspected IEDs lying ahead. Such systems were demonstrated by several
manufacturers at the UAV Battlelabs. One of the system, the Boeing/Insitu ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicle
(UAV) could be used for convoy protection in Iraq before the end of 2005.
New sensor suits are evaluated for these missions, providing situational awareness and early warning of hostile
intent. Such sensors are including close coverage by acoustic gunshot detectors, such as the ShotSpotter, which
automatically slews the UAV's camera to source of fire; EO/IR imaging sensors offer coverage at longer range,
and enable the UAV to fly ahead of the convoy, providing early warning about potential threats. Synthetic
aperture radar can also employed by "sweeping" roadsides from long distance, detecting changes in the terrain,
which could indicate IED locations. To better coordinate between the UAV and the convoy, the UAV or its sensor
has to be controlled from the moving vehicles, providing continuous feed of video imagery while on the move.
The UAV can perform several tasks automatically, including Continuous Change Detection (CCD) processing
and moving target detection. Advanced operating modes enable the UAV to autonomously maintain a fixed
distance ahead of a convoy, by following the route and GPS location of the ground station (security team).

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