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FAS Project on Intelligence Reform

Joint Airborne SIGINT Architecture (JASA)

The Joint Airborne SIGINT Architecture (JASA) Standards Working Group (JSWG) was established to identify the standards and protocols necessary to develop joint, common, interoperable airborne SIGINT systems compatible with the United States Cryptologic System (USCS) and other intelligence disciplines. The primary objective of the JSWG is to recommend and promulgate standards and protocols to the Defense Airborne Reconnaissance (DARO) that will support and facilitate implementation of the JASA and ensure maximum interoperability among SIGINT systems.

The fundamental philosophy behind JASA is to leverage commercial digital signal processor technology to address the ever growing population of varied radio frequency (RF) signals, modulation schemes and signal multiplexing structures. By digitizing the signal early in the sensor system, common hardware processing can be used that is independent of signal type, reducing the need for signal specific specialized hardware. This approach to signal processing increases the flexibility and overall capacity of the SIGINT system, which must rapidly respond to the explosion of digital signals in the environment.

JASA lays a foundation for the migration of current systems and developments to the Objective 2010 Architecture of interoperable and synergistic SIGINT systems as defined by the Joint Chiefs of Staff "Joint Vision 2010". It establishes an open system that will quickly and readily allow for the integration of new capabilities in response to the changing threat environment.

Current architecture and collection system have insufficient capability to intercept modern modulation and low probability of detection communications and radar signals. Improvements are required to accurately measure signal polarization and angle of arrival to the required accuracy, and process signals in the presence of co-channel interfering signals. DOD airborne collection platforms do not operate under a common architecture and are limited in their ability to exchange data among platforms for rapid geolocation and targeting. The Air Force is updating low-band production baseline and revising high-band component projections, which provide only the minimum baseline capability outlined by the Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Steering Committee. It does not take full advantage of the available technology and the architecture currently being offered by the contractor.

The JSAF CRD (CAF 002-88 Joint CAF -USA, USN, USMC CAPSTONE Requirements Document for JOINT SIGINT AVIONICS FAMILY) requires all airborne reconnaissance aircraft to migrate to JASA compliance by 2010. Current aircraft architecture and collection system have insufficient capability to intercept modern modulation and low probability of detection communications and radar signals. System requires improvements to accurately measure signal polarization and angle of arrival to the required accuracy, and to process signals in the presence of co-channel interfering signals. DOD airborne collection platforms do not operate under a common architecture and are limited in their ability to exchange data among platforms for the purpose of rapid signal triangulation for geolocation and targeting.

Improved RF sensors would intercept, exploit, and report on modern modulation and low probability of detection communications and radar signals. JASA permits the collection of signals in the presence of co-channel interference, and provides interoperability between primary DOD airborne collection platforms, establishing the infrastructure to support near-real-time exchange of information for rapid signal geolocation and targeting. These upgrades provide compliance with DOD directed Joint Airborne SIGINT Architecture (JASA).

However, the JASA capabilities will take quite some time to arrive and will be short of the currently fielded Guardrail capabilities. And the associated UAV Tactical Control System program developing UAV ground station processing appears to be establishing its own architecture independent of the services and DARO. The DARO Vision Architecture seems to be patterned after the AF/NSA model that applies to the two AF CARS systems and one NSA system, despite the fact that there are up to 30 Navy, 4 Marine Corps and 10 Army DCGS systems. The aspect most troubling to the Army is that the DARO communication architecture vision places air to space communication of collected data (relayed for the most part to CONUS) as the primary approach, over the direct delivery of data to ground stations.

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Created by John Pike
Maintained by Steven Aftergood

Updated Saturday, November 21, 1998 2:19:12 PM