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Raytheon: App Stores To Take Over ISR

by Mike Hoffman on July 10, 2012

FARNBOROUGH, England — Raytheon leaders want intelligence analysts to have an App store stocked solely with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance apps built just for them.

It’s just part of the future for ISR according to Brooke Griffith, a senior director for Raytheon’s Information and Intelligence Systems, who expects future soldiers to tailor apps on the fly to fulfill a ground commander’s needs. He said here Tuesday at the Farnborough International Airshow that he also sees a future not necessarily littered with drones and one where cyber protection is even more important.

To keep up, the U.S. military will have to change the way it buys weapons. The advance of technology simply won’t wait for the Pentagon’s stodgy acquisition systems to catch up. Raytheon leaders who led a discussion on the future of ISR said the military must learn from the Amazon’s and the Apple’s of the world and how they rapidly develop technology.

The amount of data that is ready to drown analysts as sensor balls continue to advance will force militaries to constantly keep devising analytical computer programs to pare down the deluge and point out trends or highlight unusual activity. That’s where the apps concept comes into play. Analysts should be able to constantly communicate with deployed commanders and develop the tools they need to mine these mountains of data.

This influx of programs will further place emphasis on cyber security, Raytheon officials said. Vulnerabilities exist as most militaries depend on technologies such as GPS to run their vehicles, aircraft and equipment.

Don’t rule out established countries making a run on offensive cyber weapons if it hasn’t happened already. There’s a blurry line that separates what military officials can accomplish with ISR and a computer virus. Griffiths used SIGINT sensors as an example. Why weigh down an aircraft with a SIGINT ball when a military could introduce a virus into the cell towers to track phone conversations? The U.S. needs to do a better job at eliminating duplicated systems in this realm, he said.

U.S. military officials can’t expect to continue to depend so much on unmanned aerial vehicles to provide ISR. An enemy with even moderate air defenses will make them much tougher to operate, especially if an adversary can attack the downlink connecting the UAV to the pilot.

Griffiths said he expects a renewal in the need for manned aircraft in in ISR to counter those threats. Adding sensors and pilots will weigh down aircraft, but they will be necessary. UAVs won’t be entirely scratched, but a  mix of manned and unmanned aircraft will be needed, he said.

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