Client: Navair
Contract Date: 2011 – Present


A year ago, the US Navy / NAVAIR Weapons Engagement Office (WEO) started a project to integrate data from the RAF’s Sentinel and RAPTOR systems into the Distributed Common Ground Surface / Station (DCGS) enterprise – with the ultimate aim being to provide a decision support and targeting capability.

The 3SDL ISTAR team was selected by NAVAIR for this task based on our performance and experience in supporting the UK MOD and US DoD during the Empire Challenge (EC) series of ISR interoperability events, held annually in the US between 2006 and 2011. At the forefront of our success was our ability to forge and build relationships with UK and US stakeholders, and understand the complexity of the ISR context and its potential impact on the deployed warfighter. Having the technical knowledge and the ability to keep focused on the operational need set us apart and ensured the activities were successful during the EC events.

Focused on delivering enhancements to the NAVAIR targeting / effects package known as Common Geopositioning Services (CGS) - a US Government ‘Off The Shelf’ application with interfaces to C2 systems and imagery exploitation tools - the project is funded by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. With the project halfway through its planned development cycle, the aim is to have the system ready for transition to operational status within the coming year.

Whilst most of the scientific work is being conducted at the WEO’s labs in China Lake, California, 3SDL Ltd’s ISTAR team is acting as the UK-based facilitator and test coordinator, working on behalf of NAVAIR. This requires us to act in the role of ‘bridge’ between the US DoD and UK MOD; managing contacts with Goodrich ISRS, Raytheon Systems Limited, and other support contractors on both sides of the Atlantic; and working with our partners SLC Associates to conduct precise surveys of a series of targets on the UK MOD’s Defence Training Estates at the Salisbury Plain and Stanford Training Areas (Sennybridge and Otterburn). Once this final task is completed, 3SDL will hold a ‘golden reference’ library of imagery- and radar-significant targets surveyed to sub-10cm accuracy and precision – this in itself is an extremely valuable and useful reference, which can be made available to UK MOD and Government agencies for testing ISR system capabilities.

In the coming months, we will prepare test spiral events for both RAPTOR and Sentinel system data with the CGS project, which will culminate in an end-to-end demonstration of data ingest in the UK supporting a targeting cell based within the Continental US. Once completed, this project will have validated the capability of UK ISR systems to provide high-quality targeting coordinates, a positive step change in the capability available to the UK MOD and US DoD against the backdrop of the Strategic Defence and Security Review, and Planning Round 12 – both of which had a negative impact on the RAF’s ISR capability. This is an excellent example of rapid prototyping and spiral development, which is outpacing and outperforming more traditional acquisition methods.


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