C4ISR Journal celebrated its 2011 Big 25 Awards and revealed its Top 5 winners today at the C4ISR Journal Conference in Arlington, Va.
This was the fourth annual Big 25 Awards ceremony. C4ISR Journal editors scan the industry and intelligence community for the technologies and organizations that they believe have had the most impact. They are divided into five categories: Sensors that gather ISR data; Innovations are promising technologies; Organizations are government agencies or groups that are addressing intelligence-related problems; Network Systems route information to where it needs to go; and Platforms are the aircraft, ships or ground vehicles that carry the sensors.
C4ISR Journal Editor Ben Iannotta said that every member of this year’s Big 25 group represented “a real achievement” in their category.
The Top 5 winners are:
Sensors: Sierra Nevada Corp. industry team and the U.S. Air Force for Gorgon Stare
The Gorgon Stare sensor pods for U.S. Air Force Reaper unmanned planes were first deployed to Afghanistan in March to meet a call for wide-area airborne surveillance. With Gorgon Stare, troops and intelligence analysts receive snapshots at two frames a second of an area the size of a city. Images also can be shipped to 10 individual users. Gorgon Stare is a way for one aircraft to provide coverage comparable to what would otherwise have to be assembled from numerous planes providing soda-straw views of the ground.
Innovations: Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Army for the Long Endurance Multi-intelligence Vehicle (LEMV)
LEMV is a football-field-length airship being designed to carry a multi-intelligence payload at altitudes of about 20,000 feet. Because of its size, this airship will be able to carry larger payloads than other aircraft on longer duration missions. Northrop has been preparing to inflate the first of three airships it is scheduled to provide to the U.S. Army. The first LEMV is scheduled to fly in Afghanistan in December. Northrop says the LEMV will fly for 21 days with 2,750 pounds of payload. The heart of its design is the “Murphy Bay,” a pod named for Medal of Honor recipient Navy Lt. Michael Murphy, who died in Afghanistan in 2005.
“If it works, it will be a paradigm change for ISR,” said Terry Mitchell, the director of intelligence futures in the Army's G-2 office, as he accepted the award.
Network Systems: U.K. Ministry of Defence Joint Aeronautical and Geospatial Organisation (JAGO) and Esri for DataMan (Data Management System)
DataMan is a centralized computer server and deployable software tools that deliver intelligence-rich digital maps to NATO’s Helmand Task Force and provincial reconstruction teams in Afghanistan. Before DataMan, NATO troops and reconstruction workers operating in Afghanistan’s South West Regional Command had no easy way to view information about helicopter landing sites, insurgent networks or the locations of recent roadside bomb explosions. Two years ago, JAGO and Esri UK decided to fix this problem. JAGO’s 42 Engineer Regiment worked with Esri to consolidate information into a single repository and design an online tool called Helmand GeoViewer to display the information. Now, users with secure online browser access can layer 300 kinds of information onto digital maps. JAGO created the viewer using Esri’s ArcGIS Application Programming Interface to ensure that the end product could be implemented and maintained by troops on the front lines. The DataMan technology was introduced in March 2010 and has grown enormously in popularity. In January alone, there were 2.5 million views.
Platforms: Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center for the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) Geo-1 Satellite
Geo-1 was launched toward geosynchronous orbit May 7. It is the first satellite in a constellation of long-delayed geosynchronous orbiting missile-warning satellites. The U.S. is counting on the SBIRS spacecraft to replace its aging Defense Support Program satellites. The contractors and government had to overcome serious mistakes in the design phase of the project to get Geo-1 into orbit. The satellite beamed its first infrared image to the ground June 21. In addition to providing warning of missile launches against the U.S. homeland, the infrared payload will provide intelligence about foreign missile tests and tactical intelligence for battlefield commanders.
Organizations: The CIA Counterterrorism Center and Office of South Asia Analysis
The intelligence unit with the main responsibility for hunting down Osama bin Laden was located at the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center. Experts there worked in close cooperation with the CIA’s Office of South Asia Analysis and the intelligence staff at U.S. Joint Special Operations Command to determine that bin Laden was almost certainly the occupant of a safe house in Abbottabad, Pakistan. After the May 2 killing of bin Laden, then-CIA Director Leon Panetta publicly recognized these elements of his agency on the CIA website: “My deepest thanks and congratulations go out to the officers of our Counterterrorism Center and Office of South Asia Analysis for their outstanding expertise, amazing creativity, and excellent tradecraft. I also extend my profound appreciation and absolute respect to the strike team, whose great skill and courage brought our nation this historic triumph.”