Good Example Of Countermeasures To Intelligence, Surveillance, And Reconnaissance Term Paper

Type of paper: Term Paper

Topic: Technology, Aviation, Vehicles, Surveillance, Cyber Crimes, Aircraft, Information, Development

Pages: 8

Words: 2200

Published: 2021/02/23

Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) are terms used to describe technologies which enable armed forces to deploy information gathering devices and managing the data collected. Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance information is gathered in the battlefield through physical observations by soldiers, spies, or electronic sensors. The information is then analyzed by intelligence officers and handed to army commanders and other senior decision makers for battle plans formulation. Intelligence is relevant information that enhances the understanding of an enemy’s intents, disposition, and battlefield arrangement (Ramirez, 2014). Surveillance is the act watching and listening to an enemy in a bid to understand and predict their behavior. Reconnaissance, unlike surveillance, is done during war when soldiers, helicopters, or planes are sent out ahead of their troops to study the enemy’s approach or level of preparedness (Keller, 2014). This is a paper on counter intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance measures.
Several measures can be taken to counter Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance actions by an enemy on friendly grounds. Governments all over the world support and fund the development of ISR and counter ISR technologies. In the United States, the government has incessantly complained of surveillance operations against it by The People’s Republic of China. Sony pictures, a film production company was recently hacked and confidential documents posted online. The attack was suspected to have been carried out by North Korea (Mulvenon, 2015). Anti ISR measures will cushion the United States against such acts of intrusion and assure the safety of its citizens.
Counter ISR tactics were used as way back as during the Second World War. Measures used back then included camouflage, jamming radars, bombing radar equipment and intercepting reconnaissance and photoreconnaissance aircrafts. With time the ISR technology has evolved and developed, and so has counter ISR technologies. Currently, ISR technologies are operated on three platforms, radar, optical ISR, and passive electronic ISR sensors (Department of Defence, 2012). These technologies may be carried by satellites, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), transport airliners airframes, or fast jets. An ISR system consists of two components, the platform carrying the ISR equipment and the ISR payload (O'Rourke, 2014).
Therefore, counter ISR technologies can be designed from two approaches, to destroy the platform carrying the payload or to destroy the payload itself. Also, the method used to counter the ISR technologies can be hard kill or soft kill. Hard kill technologies use weapons to destroy the platforms carrying the ISR payloads while soft kill attacks concealed targets from ISR payload sensors (Kopp, 2006).

Counter ISR technologies for present threats

Military imaging and surveillance technology (MIST) is a new technology being developed by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). According to Heinrichs (n.d.), The imaging technology has high ISR capabilities which can enable it to capture high resolution three dimensional images from a long distance. This technology can locate and identify objects from longer ranges that any existing technology in the market today. DARPA is in the process of developing the first prototypes of the MIST systems. It is hoped that the prototypes will:

Deliver high probabilities of recognition and identification at ample distances that can allow for standoff engagement.

Overcome turbulence, which affects high resolution optics performance
Increase precision and raise target confidence and lower fratricide and collateral damage (Heinrichs, n.d.).
The MIST program will integrate the latest advancements in ISR technology such as high-energy pulsed lasers, imaging algorithms to enhance resolution, data analysis tools, and receiver telescopes equipped with fields of view that does not require steering and focusing of the imaging system. Incorporation of laser focusing, digital imaging and image processing algorithms can be leveraged for a tradeoff between product size and image quality (Heinrichs, n.d.).
The MIST technology will ensure a smaller device with high imaging power that is easily portable by a soldier and can be integrated to the UAV platform. Other benefits of the technology include improvement of sniper rifles through its integration into the Crosswind Sensor Systems (C-WINS) and also the Dynamic Image Gun sight Optics (DInGO) (Heinrichs, n.d.). Such a rifle can enable a an inexperienced soldier fire a rifle with a marksman accuracy from a long range with the option of close quarters combat.

The use of MIST technology in counter ISR applications

The ability of the MIST technology to detect objects from a long range makes it appealing for counter ISR application. The technology can be used to detect ISR platforms, such as drones or stealth planes before they deliver their payload. Stealth planes are not detectable by radar technologies and are therefore used for ISR activities. MIST operated devices can pick up and identify such planes from a fair distance and give an army time to activate their response mechanism before an intrusion and violation occurs. Also, the technology can be employed in deploying the response mechanism, which can either be a soft or a hard kill.


The upwards falling payload is a technology that proposes storage of sensors on the sea floor which can then be retrieved when required. According to Krolik (2014), this technology is envisioned to complement the coverage of the navy which is limited by inadequate resources and complexity of weapons used. The sensors concealed payloads when activated will float to the surface, thus the upward falling payloads. The unmanned technology, also being developed by DARPA, will fill the coverage gaps by lying on the ocean floors for years until when required. If activated, the system will deliver a non-lethal payload on the sea surface which will then execute the relevant ISR operation.
More than half of the world’s oceans have a depth of over 4km. This provides suitable grounds for concealment and storage which greatly reduces the cost of retrieval of the UFP nodes. The UFP systems offer the advantage of speedy and prompt activation of dormant remote assets. Also, the spread of the nodes over long distances and their subsequent simultaneous activation offers the advantage of speed and wide coverage. Finally, the UFP nodes can get close to the objects and initiate deployment without warning or delays, which gives the technology the invaluable element of surprise (Krolik, 2014).
The UFP system will be constituted of three subsystems; the payload which will deliver the waterborne or the airborne components after rising to the water surface, the watertight and pressure tolerant “riser” which preserves and delivers the payload to the surface and the communication instruments used to remotely activate the UFP.

For the technology to fulfill its intended purpose, it must fulfill three conditions:

Survive for a long time under marine conditions and immense pressure.
Possess a reliable triggering system that can be activated from standoff command
Quickly rise through the water column above it and deliver its payload (Krolik, 2014).
Figure 1: An artist impression of the UFP technology

Application of UFP Systems in counter ISR operations

The usefulness of the UFP system as counter ISR assets is hinged on its ability to conceal a payload for elongated lengths of time in the water. Many ISR activities are carried out in the ocean waters. ISR platforms can be in the form of undetectable submarines, ships and boats. Submarines have been used in the past on spy missions by lurking along the coastlines of target countries. Also ships and boats can be equipped with radar jamming equipment so that they can go undetected. The UFP technology can solve this problem. This can be achieved by programming the UFP devices to detect certain kinds of marine vehicles and release their payloads when such vehicles approach a UFP node. Alternatively, the system can be remotely operated when an intruding device is suspected to be at a certain location near a UFP node.

Technologies for countering future ISR threats

The scorpion ISR/ Strike Aircrafft is a modern war aircraft which is being developed by Textron Airland Company, a joint effort by AirLand Enterprises and Textron. The aircraft is intended for war applications such as air defense, border patrol, irregular warfare, maritime security, disaster relief, and also patrolling for counter-drug missions (Air force Technology, 2015).
Work on the Scorpion aircraft began in 2012 and was aimed at producing an economical light attack jet. A prototype was first unveiled in 2013 during an Airforce Exposition event. The first test flight of a Scorpion was also taken in 2013 at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. The aircraft debuted internationally at the Royal International Air Tattoo in July 2014 and is expected to be commercially produced in 2015.
The Scorpion aircraft airframe is fabricated from composites and it is powered by turbofan engines. The aircraft has several provisions for payload packaging. It possesses a retractable sensor interface, an internal bay for loading payloads, and external mounts primed for precision munitions (Air force Technology, 2015).
The architecture of the plane allows for future alterations to be made in order to accommodate various types of sensors and weapons. The internal payload bay delivers flexibility by accommodating a range of payloads for different applications. The aircraft can house different combinations of fuel, communications and payloads in order to execute different type of missions (Air force Technology, 2015).
The aircraft can be tailor made for dedicated applications. The sensors on the aircraft can be optimized for certain types of operations such as counter narcotics, law enforcement, maritime patrol, irregular warfare among other application (Air force Technology, 2015).

Application of the scorpion aircraft in ISR operations

The Scorpion can be used for ISR and counter ISR operations because it has a retractable sensor mounting and an internal sensor bay. This gives it the ability to detect all objects in the atmosphere and in the sea. The scorpion can use the sensors to locate a threat and then engage the precision munitions to neutralize it.
In the future, due to the proliferation of drone technology, it is possible that the United States could suffer a drone attack from one of its many enemies. Drones can be used for ISR purposes or carrying out actual bombing attacks. The current war crafts in operation today do not have the precision required to hit a small drone from a long range. A scorpion Craft, with its light weight, precision munitions and onboard sensors can pinpoint the exact position of a drone and eliminate it. Its light weight can enable it execute intricate maneuvers to avoid being hit or chase after a drone.


Airborne Ladar Imaging Research Testbed (ALIRT) is a technology that is being developed at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory. According to Knowlton (2015), the technology enhances quick production of three dimensional images at the rate of 200km2/hour. The technology can be used for 3D mapping applications for both civilian and military uses. The technology can be used to collect data from inaccessible locations such as high altitudes. Its high data acquisition rate enables it to collect large amounts of data with a single pass. Maps generated by the ALIRT captures both natural sructures such as the great canyon and also manmade structures such as buildings. The quality of images produced by ALIRT technology is superior to those captured through normal commercial ladar systems. As seen from figure2, the image of the Grand Canyon, which has a depth of 2000m, is very detailed. Normal ladar systems cannot produce images at a data collection altitude of 2000m (Knowlton, 2015)
Figure 2: An ALIRT Image of the grand canyon, inset is a photographic image of the same view

The ALIRT system developers propose three potential applications:

Battlefield navigation such locating obscured targets and landing zones
Planning response reactions after natural disasters by tracing survivors, passable roads, and possible helicopter landing zones.
Generation of topographic maps that represent the actual land layout and can be used in land surveys, flooding analysis among other applications (Knowlton, 2015).
The ALIRT can operate during the day or night because it uses short laser pulses. A focal plane that constitutes Geiger-mode avalanche photodiode (GMAPD) arranged into an array detects the reflected pulses and calculates the time taken for a pulse to hit the target and get reflected back. Data collected by the receivers is then used to construct a three dimensional image Knowlton, 2015.

Applications of airborne ladar imaging research testbed (ALIRT)

ALIRT has a lot of potential as an ISR technology. A system that can scan 200km2/h can counter ISR operations in several ways. By scanning an area, intrusion from foreign surveillance objects is insured against. Also surveillance and reconnaissance by soldiers and spies lurking in the dark will not go unnoticed because the laser pulses enable the system to operate even during the night.The system can be used to observe abnormal behavior on the ground, such as change in land topography, to pick out suspicious activities. Changes in the earth topography near vital defense sites, such as army compounds, could be due to buried intelligence ISR equipment, which can transmit sensitive defense information to the enemies.


ISR is an important part of country’s defense. In the United States, the government invests heavily in defense research projects. This has led to the invention of advanced ISR technologies, some of which have been implemented while others are still at the early stages of development. Likewise, other countries have also been developing parallel ISR technologies and programs, with the intent of using them to spy on the United States. This has necessitated the development of counter ISR technologies to protect defense operations in the United States and in other countries. ISR technology development is a worthy undertaking that has the potential to prevent immense loss of defense resources and personnel.


Knowlton , R. (2011). Airborne Ladar Imaging Research Testbed. Tech Notes. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved from< >
Krolik, J.(2014). Upward Falling Payloads (UFP). Strategic Technology Office. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Retrieved from
Air force Technology. (2015). Scorpion ISR / Strike Aircraft, United States of America. .Kable. Retrieved from
Kopp, C. (2006). “Hard Kill Counter-ISR Programs Technical Report.” Australia’s Independent Defense Think Tank. Retrieved from Programs.html
Heinrichs, R. M.( n.d.). Military Imaging and Surveillance Technology (MIST). Strategic Technology Office. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Retrieved from chnology_(MIST).aspx
Keller, J. (2014).U.S. demand for ISR technology shifting from military to counter-terrorism” Military Aerospace. PennWell Corporation. Retrieved from
O'Rourke, R. (2014). China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities Background and Issues for Congress. Congressional Research Service. Retrieved from
Ramirez, M. (2014). Why has ISR Technology been ineffective in combating the IED threat in Afghanistan? The Pennsylvania State University. Retrieved from https://www.e-
Mulvenon, J. (n.d.). Counter-Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance. n.p. Retrieved from

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