Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Is this the future of ISTAR?

Flight International - BAE to explore new UAV technologies for Australian DoD
The key paragraph of the article below
"...key focus points...increased autonomy during target detection and recognition, on-board image processing to reduce bandwidth demands, and the use of simultaneous location and mapping techniques to reduce reliance on GPS guidance."
3 issues are highlighted
  1. the Mark I eyeball is still often the "device" used for spotting (and identifying) targets when an UAV flys over area of interest
  2. bandwidth problems still persist, as the demand for full-motion video outstrips the supply of data bandwidth available
  3. defence planners are already thinking of future scenarios where enemy forces may have the ability to jam GPS signals, which many assets (not just UAVs) are currently relying on
The recent mushrooming of manned ISTAR aircraft is also a partial "solution" to the issues highlighted above, with humans on board being able to sieve through the footage in real-time, without having to transmit it to a ground station (which would eat up vital bandwidth), plus help to navigate the aircraft manually.

This "information management" will become more and more critical as ground commanders get increasingly "addicted" to having an extra pair of "eyes in the sky". For example, instead of just simply driving out on a patrol, a commander may first ask for an UAV to fly over the area in question before he/she sets off.

p.s. almost forgot to highlight the Taranis UCAV mentioned at the end of the article. opswarfare waits with bated breath to see which UCAV will go into production first...

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