Ever heard of airborne forensics? One of the hottest tools for hunting Taliban in Afghanistan is something called ground moving target indicator, produced by the Air Force’s JSTARS radar plane. JSTARS flies nightly missions with a crew of 20 or more, some of whom are Army soldiers, over Afghanistan and Iraq.
“There’s a misconception that JSTARS is this archaic 707 that pushes dots down to these Army guys in this hopped up mini-van called a DCGS,” one senior JSTARS commander told me recently. “Our dots, our GMTI, are pushed real time to two separate exploitation servers,” he said. The real time data from JSTARS can warn soldiers at firebases about enemy forces on the move. Put several days or weeks of information together, and important indications of enemy movement start to pop out.
“If we were NASCAR there’d be a boatload of logos on the side of that jet – NASIC, NGA, JIEDDO, pick a three-letter organization,” said the JSTARS expert, referring to the hundreds of analysts who link into the GMTI database. Now that’s surveillance.
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