Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) are probably—if not the most crucial foundation for all military operations. It provides the decision-makers and action-takers with well-informed situation awareness, especially on tightly secured enemy grounds, airspace, and water territories, allowing them to collect, analyze, and develop well-formed strategies.

But, as you all know, technology keeps on advancing, and along with it are other capable nations such as Russia and China who can keep up on upgrading their weapons and equipment. And while unmanned overhead drones for surveillance remain significantly effective on today’s battlefield, there’s a big possibility that this won’t be enough for future armed conflicts.

This is why the US Army is collaborating with SpaceLink to further enhance its data-relaying capabilities that would benefit troops on the ground.

Five-year Cooperative R&D Agreement

SpaceLink has signed a five-year contract with the US Army Space and Missile Defense Command Technical Center to explore ways to expand the capability of troops in the field to easily or quickly obtain data information.

Under the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA), “SpaceLink will be sharing proprietary information about its system and in exchange will get insight into the Army’s concepts of operations and specific needs,” SpaceNews reported.

The US Army hopes to address this “long-standing” issue of quick access to commercial satellite imagery and allow the public and allied countries to access essential images classified on national security satellites.

This restriction may have an impact on critical operations. For example, suppose a battlefield commander needs to locate a moving enemy armored vehicle on the ground but cannot do so because transmission takes hours or even days.

Patrol Squadron (VP) 9 during an intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) mission
A photo of a naval aircrewman operator at a mission control workstation during an ISR mission, September 30, 2021. (Image source: US Navy/DVIDS)

Not to mention the technological advances of other countries that could quickly shoot down reconnaissance drones when spotted.