A hostile country moves intercontinental ballistic missiles over a mountain range.
The bet is that an unpredictable route to the new launch site – and the rugged terrain – mask their movements.
But Raytheon Technologies' Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance aircraft, or ISTAR, is in the skies above. ISTAR allows operators and commanders to track the convoy's signals, listen to its communications and watch its movements with active electronically scanned array radars, multi-spectral imagers and other advanced tech.
Because the plane is equipped with multiple-intelligence, or Multi-INT, technology, what was hidden is revealed.
“With a single-sensor solution, we’re stuck in uncertainty,” said Roy Azevedo, president of Raytheon Intelligence & Space, a business of Raytheon Technologies. “The idea behind Multi-INT is that you take multiple types of intelligence from various sensors and sources and blend them together to get a clearer picture.”
With a Multi-INT platform, synthetic aperture radar/ground moving target indicator, or SAR/GMTI, data combines with electro-optical infrared data, signal and electronics intelligence and other data.
All of those technologies work together on the company's ISTAR special mission aircraft to create a multi-dimensional view, giving commanders and operators the information they need to make the right decisions in real-time.
“We know that the battlefield is faster and more complex than ever,” said Azevedo. “This, in turn, creates the demand to positively identify targets more quickly.”
In addition to their ability to continuously track a target, Multi-INT systems also provide significantly more coverage - double in some scenarios - than a radar-only system. That frees up critical resources.
“Fusing multiple forms of intelligence on a special mission aircraft allows you to constantly monitor and maintain the chain of custody of risks and targets,” said Jerry Carter, a senior director at RI&S. “Since all of that tech is working on one aircraft, it also makes you more efficient in terms of staffing, operators, logistics and total life cycle cost.”
ISTAR can also help with day-to-day peace time applications. The Multi-INT aircraft can be used to support responses to natural disasters, such as flooding. It can monitor vessels, playing a central role in maritime embargo enforcement. And it can provide surveillance of national borders and littoral areas, detecting any unusual movement.
In the future, machine learning and artificial intelligence will be force multipliers for special mission aircraft equipped with Multi-INT. Instead of relying on a human to stitch multiple pictures together, ISTAR can look at that same data to fuse together a scenario.
“Humans can only process so much data,” said Todd Alexander, director of Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Systems. “You can do more, faster, with AI and machine learning, pushing the boundary to truly understand what our adversaries are trying to do. And the systems will only get smarter with the more data it processes.”