Imagery intelligence (IMINT) is the technical, geographic and intelligence information derived through the interpretation or analysis of imagery and collateral materials. It includes exploitation of imagery data derived from several category of sensors: electro-optical (EO), radar, infrared (IR), multi-spectral or laser.
IMINT is collected via satellites, unmanned aerial vehicles, reconnaissance aircraft and ground systems. Future space-based satellites will equip imagery analysts with higher resolution, wider swath and increased number of images; “big data” from space will be available. One of the main difficulties stems from the need to better coordinate and leverage the skills of analysts and operators within effective and efficient operational workflows and the new features available as a result of the development of analytical tools. A particular area requiring effort is imagery obtained from space-based Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR). This partly due to the relative complexity of both tasking and managing SAR systems/data when compared with the mass of well-established procedures for optical images. SAR images are considered as a source of valuable information to support military operations and the decision-making process. Greater exploitation of SAR imagery, or when combined use with electro-optical images, takes full advantage of SAR’s unique 24/7 and all-weather characteristics. This increases the merits of increased investments made by several European Ministries of Defence on SAR satellites. The procedures to analyse data are based on operational workflows. Those are defined as series of activities that typically encompass several tasks: e.g. requesting satellite imagery, geolocation, filtering, features extraction and target recognition. Each operational workflow is normally tailored on the basis of operational scenarios (ports, airfields, urban, lines of communications, industrial compound, etc.). The tasks can be performed by skilled analysts or by operators that might use tools developed for that purpose.
The European Defence Agency’s work in the field RPAS aims at covering