Boutique ISR

The Air Force will take “a year or two” to decide whether to keep, expand, or jettison a variety of “boutique” intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance capabilities created as ad-hoc solutions to special needs during the past 10 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Lt. Gen. Larry James, deputy chief of staff for ISR. These “quick-reaction capability” programs, such as Gorgon Stare and Blue Devil, to name just two, “need to play out” a while longer so USAF can determine if they are worth the expense of continuing, said James Wednesday at an Aviation Week conference in Arlington, Va. Gorgon Stare vastly increases the ISR “take” from an MQ-9 Reaper, for instance, but the Air Force is staggering under the weight of the data the systems are generating, he said. Gorgon Stare and Blue Devil generate “53 terabytes a day” of data, equivalent to “12 years of video,” said James. Collectively, he added, USAF’s high-definition video systems are generating six petabytes, or “80 years” of high-def video a day. USAF will have to invest heavily in processing, exploitation, and distribution systems to keep up with the flow, and will need lots of analysts skilled at synthesizing “all source” ISR, he said.