Naval Aviation systems are key contributors to the Defense Department's Integrated Airborne Reconnaissance Strategy. The Navy and Marine Corps broad objective for airborne reconnaissance is to achieve rapid full spectrum dominance, on the battlefield or during operations other than war. Our specific reconnaissance goal is to provide all warfighters with timely, useful, and sustained intelligence.

The unique expeditionary capabilities of U.S. naval forces allows them to bring early and extended reconnaissance capabilities to undeveloped areas of operation. Wherever the United States has naval forces deployed, it also has an in-place strategic intelligence collection capability that supports the National Command Authority, the unified CINC, and the Joint Task Force commander. At the tactical level, real-time airborne intelligence provides a means to support early strikes and the precision engagement of stationary and mobile enemy forces and facilities.


Naval Aviation's strategy for providing airborne reconnaissance relies upon a systematic approach, one that - in concert with space-based and other joint assets - will meet U.S. warfighting needs through 2010. The desired endstate is a force of manned and unmanned aircraft that is integrated into a broader joint infrastructure and complies with the common format architecture mandated by the Department of Defense. To achieve this force mix, we are assessing the value and cost of existing analog systems while basing our procurement plans on how well these systems perform on the joint digital battlefield. Our ultimate goal is to achieve true, real-time sensor-to-planner intelligence at the strategic/theater level, and sensor-to-shooter targeting at the operational and tactical levels.

Navy airborne reconnaissance platforms are organic ISR assets that are key to naval, and U.S., power projection. These aircraft must be able to provide ISR data to a variety of weapon systems and platforms via the most direct and expeditious means possible. The measure of effectiveness for Naval Aviation's airborne reconnaissance platforms is the extent to which they allow the prompt placement of the appropriate weapon on the correct target. Consequently, they must be participants in joint information networks in which intelligence and situational awareness data from all available sources are fused and disseminated. The two primary joint communication links Naval Aviation will use are JTIDS/Link 16 and the Tactical Information Broadcast System/Information Broadcast System (TIBS/IBS). These joint information "pipes" are being incorporated into naval reconnaissance aircraft.


Battle group and MAGTF commanders need the capability to immediately dispatch tactical reconnaissance platforms to update the enemy's order of battle, locate and track mobile targets, transmit target imagery, and provide timely battle damage assessment. Stand-off, high endurance reconnaissance is provided by EP-3E's and ASUW Improvement Program (AIP)-equipped P-3C's utilizing multiple sensors including Electro-optic sensors and high-resolution SAR radars. All future airborne reconnaissance systems must be compatible with the Common Imagery Ground Service System (CIGSS), and current systems must become CIGSS capable as they are upgraded. Naval Aviation meets this requirement with F-14 TARPS, the only manned penetrating reconnaissance aircraft in the U.S. inventory.

The Marine Corps Advanced Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance System (ATARS), an internally-mounted, palletized system carried by the F/A 18D, will replace the capabilities lost when the Marine Corps retired its RF-4B reconnaissance aircraft in the early 1990s. The Navy will develop a reconnaissance system for the F/A-18F (F/A-18F TACRECCE) that will replace the F-14 TARPS. The Tomcat will continue to provide the only manned tactical reconnaissance capability until the introduction of ATARS. The F-14's "Roadmap for the Future" includes the incorporation of a digital imaging and data link capability in 24 TARPS pods to provide battle group commanders and allied forces tactical battlefield imagery in support of ongoing intelligence gathering requirements. The TARPS digital imaging (DI) system will provide near real time imagery for detection and identification of tactical targets and immediate threat and bomb damage assessment. This unique, one-of-a-kind, capability deployed with Tomcat squadron VF-32 in November 1996. Both systems will provide Naval Aviation with armed, penetrating, rapid-response tactical reconnaissance capability. They will provide real-time or near real-time, high resolution, digital, day/night, all-weather and through-the-weather reconnaissance, either by direct overflight or from stand-off ranges. The F/A-18D ATARS will reach Marine Corps IOC in the second quarter of FY 1999, while the Navy's F/A-18F TACRECCE will debut operationally around FY 2003-2004.


The Naval Services must be capable of receiving intelligence data via direct link from the entire joint inventory of UAV variants, whether they are land- or sea-based. The operational concepts of Forward... From the Sea and Operational Maneuver from the Sea are based upon agility, the collection of timely intelligence, and flexibility. The Department of the Navy can meet these demands either with organic UAVs or by leveraging the capabilities of other-service UAVs via direct data link. Organic UAVs must be capable of landing with expeditionary forces, as well as operating with a variety of naval warships. UAVs that operate in support of U.S. naval forces must provide tactical reconnaissance out to the maximum ranges of the weapon systems and aircraft of a carrier battle group or MAGTF.

Until a fully marinized Tactical UAV (TUAV) system is developed, the retention of the Pioneer UAV - the Department of the Navy's only operational UAV system - will remain a Naval Aviation priority. Capable of operating from LPD-class amphibious ships and from shore locations, Pioneer has proven extremely useful in supporting amphibious and expeditionary operations.

In terms of new UAV procurement, Naval Aviation's highest priority is the marinized TUAV system. The ongoing TUAV Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration is designed to meet the requirements of the Navy, Marine Corps, and the Army. Naval Aviation supports the continuing research, development, and testing of evolving vertical take-off and landing technologies, which may be incorporated into the TUAV that supports the Navy and Marine Corps.

Naval Aviation also remains committed to demonstrating Medium Altitude Endurance (MAE) UAV technologies as part of an overall effort to refine our UAV requirements and develop concepts of operations in which they are featured. The Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center is addressing these requirements and examining manned versus unmanned force mix issues.

Naval Aviation's interest in the High-Altitude Endurance (HAE) UAV system is directed toward three areas. One involves the ability to task HAE UAV missions, retask the aircraft's route of flight, and redirect its sensors to support either joint or naval operations. The second area is the ability to receive HAE sensor data in real-time, and the third is the ability to process sensor data afloat and on shore.

In the area of UAV support and control, the Tactical Control Station (TCS) is being designed to be a common link between all UAV systems. TCS will be used to control the TUAV, while its secondary function will be to receive Imagery Intelligence data from Endurance UAVs. TCS will be a key element in the Naval Services' ability to receive and disseminate UAV collected intelligence.