Earth observation satellites have become an invaluable resource for defence and security missions, especially when planning operations and mission deployments remotely. Once considered a tool designed to provide strategic threat assessments, today’s imagery satellites offer an exceptional level of tactical support to decision makers and the modern soldier.
At a military tactical level, terminals are now a common piece of equipment, which allow the rapid viewing of high-resolution images. In military parlance, this is ‘sensor to shooter’. This is derived from the need for ‘dominant battlespace awareness’ to enable real-time decision-making and forms part of what the military call ‘network centric warfare.’ Commanders need responsive intelligence that decisively supports the warfighter and, as a result, the warfighter is completely reliant on up-to-the-minute data on a 24/7 basis, potentially every day of the year.
One of the prerequisites for such flexibility while on operational deployment is now instant satellite tasking that will provide as close to real-time accuracy as possible. Furthermore, a number of critical factors such as reliability, usefulness and speed of image acquisition and delivery, come into play.
To answer customers’ requirements, Airbus, as satellite provider and multi-intelligence specialist, has further improved and digitalised its offering to provide clients with imaging that is tailored to their specific needs, thus reducing the time required to retrieve imagery. Consequently, Airbus are now responding to customer needs at an unprecedented level.
The rise of asymmetric warfare and fragmentation of traditional modes of conventional war mean that the warfighter and the security industry have to be able to operate with a much greater degree of responsiveness. Whether it is for monitoring ICBM facilities in Russia, a satellite launch site in North Korea, a battle damage assessment over a Yemeni air base or to locate a hijacked oil tanker off the coast of Somalia, Airbus’ One Tasking offer quasi-real-time tactical intelligence to an extremely high quality, backed by expert analysis.
This growing responsiveness to customers’ needs - that are increasingly a developmental driver rather than the technology itself - shows how these improved tasking services provide numerous benefits and increase reliability in the decision-making process when it comes to crisis management.
Equally, the development of new types of satellite and sensor technology, and the planned launch of new, higher resolution optical satellites, such as Pléiades Neo in the coming years, show how Airbus is investing for the future and its intention to play an even greater role in assisting defence and security operations.