In the interest of speed transcripts of IFOR press briefings are issued in unedited format
It is a complex mission. We have aircraft assigned from 11 different nations that make up the air force part of IFOR. All of these operations are melded together into a coherent airspace control structure overhead, because we don't have the traditional ground control radar structure that you would expect in other parts of the world.
And there are also task force unity of mission by one individual or one organisation and that is Air South, and COMAIRSOUTH is the Commander of that organisation. The areas that we are covering in the mission today is that we are doing Combat Air Patrol, which we have been doing during Deny Flight. We are continuing to have the capability to provide close air support to the ground forces here. We are capable of doing suppression of enemy air defences also airborne command and control. And also watching the air space using the air borne early warning the NATO AEW aircraft.
And specifically we do cover the reconnaissance mission. The reconnaissance mission itself
is performed by a number of different platforms within the theatre. First of all, we use fighter
type aircraft which is what I am more familiar with. I have spent most of my career flying a
fighter type reconnaissance aircraft. We also use unmanned air vehicles, UAVs, in the area
for that, we use J-STARS joint surveillance targeting attack radar system. We have electronic
collection means out there. Aircraft designed specifically for electronic collection, and we
have various overhead assets which I think you are familiar with such satellite collection
assets. They are made available for us through national sources. So, why do we do the
reconnaissance mission at all within the theatre here . There are probably 3 primary things
that we gain from this reconnaissance.
First of all it contributes to the intelligence data base which we use for force protection. Force protection such as locating missile systems, anti aircraft artillery systems on the ground that would protect the air force flying above, locating weapon concentrations or force concentrations for the ground forces to help them protect themselves.
We also use reconnaissance to monitor the Zone of Separation and as Col. Popel has pointed out, that is over 1000 km of area that we have monitor. And we also can be used for verifying compliance or that is a spot compliance, we can bring an asset in for that.
So how does the collection system work itself within that? From the IFOR Headquarters there is a collection priority that is put out and it will list, in order of priority, the areas that COMIFOR is interested in for his own direction of the forces. Given that priority framework then the air collection assets available to us are then tasked against various areas in order to collect intelligence given . If one item is high priority we may use more than one asset against that item.
But based on that priority we will tasking all various assets. Once the missions are flown, then summaries and or photographs are made available back up to the combined air operations center, which is located in Vicenza Italy. From there, these summaries and photographs are made available to all of the users through out the force for their use and mission planing and or intelligence summaries.
It is sure that technology plays a big part and there is not only the technology that is involved
in the collection assets, but also the technology and how we distribute product from each
individual mission. Two primary means that we have today that deal with high level
technology. First, that we have some assets in theatre that actually can distribute the product
of the mission as the mission has been flown using a data-link . System down to the system
that is located with the tactical forces on the ground in the theatre. Primarily you will see this
in air borne reconnaissance low, which is system used by the ground forces and also
unmanned area vehicles, also we have capability to down-link down to ground stations with
the tactical user.
Second, is that we have distribution system for the written summaries and photography, that's very similar to what many of you may be familiar with on Internet out on the Web. Where you can use software such as Mosaic and you can go out, you can pull in photography and various images of the internet. We have a system very similar so we can put reconnaissance's products up on the server and various users can come in through modem and actually pull the photography down and use it electronically at their end.
So, what the assets we have available out there. First, there's tactical reconnaissance aircraft. These are fighter type aircraft such as Mirage, Jaguar, F-16, F-14, from the United States Navy. That are available for our use there. Almost all of this is film based and may be that is a comment some of my age, because this is what I am accustomed to is the film base when you go out the photography is taken, it's developed, and put on the light table and you actually extract the intelligence from and through that process.
But we also use fighter type aircraft that are not traditionally reconnaissance to do reconnaissance. IFOR Instance, many of the fighters have an infrared based targeting system where they can acquire targets using infrared systems.
We will use those infrared systems from time to time on those aircraft to actually monitor an area or go look at a specific target on the ground. In those cases, the imagery would be filmed put on the video tape inside the aircraft.
Overhead assets are available to us as I have said. IFOR does not directly control overhead assets as much as those products that come from national sources that are fed into the various forces that are under IFOR.
The Airborne Reconnaissance Low (ARL) is the system that has been operating in theatre for almost a month now and uses the Dehaviland' aircraft but the sensors on board are primarily electro-optical. Electro-optical, for people like me, is tv. You can watch what is happening on tv inside the aircraft. This is the system that we hope to be able to take several view on some missions here locally in the new future we working on the details on that now.
And we also have the UAVs that provide imagery for us and down-link. J-STARS is unique
system and that it takes a radar image of an area and at the same time, it provides the radar
image of the area you also have the capability of moving target indicator which means it will
pick up vehicle size returns imposed on top of the radar image can be a time lapse picture of
vehicle activity within the certain area. And the other platforms that are used for electronic
information getting, primarily looking at radar activity through out the theatre. I will not to
try even to give you specifics here because most of the electronic stuffs is well beyond my
capability to explain.
So as the summery where I can say is we have over 20 aircraft that are directly assigned to IFOR that are tasked on a daily basis -- 10 to 15 missions a day is what we are flying right now through the theatre. I think we have some handouts available for you that give you some idea the imagery. If I could I will just quickly give you a short background on these.
The aerial photo that you have given here was taken by an F-14 aircraft and their tactical reconnaissance POD System. You can see some the detail available as you look at this for intelligence exploitation and you can identify various pieces of equipment that are on the ground. We use P 3 aircraft which for the other 3 images that you have. US Navy P3 aircraft. And this is what we would call real time system they are available overhead watching what is happening on the ground. The first picture is the picture of the building which I included in this hand out because give you some idea of the capability to get down to detail and that you can pick out individual windows and doors in this particular house is being shown on this photograph. The quality here is somewhat misleading and that what you have is a photograph, an image made from TV picture. So you can imagine how it looks when you try to print it hard. The definition is much better when you looking at TV screen.
But how do we operate real time in 2 next photographs show that. In this one very difficult to see in this particular image is a truck which is travelling down the highway or this particular road and in the final image that truck has actually stopped, and the mission report from the crew reports that this truck stopped 2 individuals got out the truck, went into the building and started loading some boxes from the building into the back of the truck. This could be used to que ground forces that are in the area that they may want to look at something is happening there. I have couple more images that I can show you.
These are from U2 photography that was taken and these were when we were really involved in the ZOS as far as have they complied with removing forces in the ZOS. In the first photograph what we have is we have a main battle tank that is located here and then also mortar position that is occupied in this area here. This photograph is taken in October this year. After D+30 at the 8th January when we start to look at the same area again and so that you know that we are not cheating you notice there are leaves on the trees on this picture, there are no leaves on the trees here. So it is definitively a different time of year. The mortar position is now empty and the tank is no longer in the area where it was.
And the final photograph, and this is an APC and the tank that are located here and these
photographs will be available at the end so you can come up and look at it and may be I can
explain further details to you , but then again, taken in January, both of the vehicles are not
longer present there.
That concludes my remarks about reconnaissance, I know it has been very, very fast overview of what we are doing in the theatre but it is a very large mission and something that keeps us very occupied each day is we collect intelligence.