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US Navy, CENTCOM seek solutions for stratospheric ISR operations

The US Navy and US Central Command (CENTCOM) are seeking industry solutions to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities to enhance the use of unmanned aerial systems (UASs) for stratospheric intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) operations, according to a joint solicitation.

The Strategic Command, Control, Communications, Computers and ISR (C4ISR) to Operationalize the Stratosphere (SCOS) programme will be led out of CENTCOM and the Naval Surface Warfare Center – Crane Division (NSWC-Crane). The programme will focus on the use of stratospheric balloons or solar-electric powered UAS platforms, according to the Request for Solutions (RFS) notice by the Strategic & Spectrum Missions Advanced Resilient Trusted Systems (S2MARTS) other transactional authority (OTA).

“Developmental testing in the last five years has been focused on operationalising the stratosphere” via stratospheric balloons and solar UASs, the RFS stated. “These platforms offer the opportunity to enhance the mission for persistent operations in non-permissive environments,” it added.

With the platforms’ extremely high operating altitude and ability to remain on station over an ISR target for an extended period of time, both stratospheric systems provide combat commanders earlier intelligence and warning data on a proposed threat, as well as provide ground forces with a resilient airborne communication node and information cross datalink, programme officials wrote. Additionally, the operating altitudes of these platforms can improve maritime and land domain awareness, as well as mitigate any degradation in space based ISR collection assets, such as satellites, they added.

BAE Systems’ PHASA-35 solar UAS  (BAE Systems )

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