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FAS Project on Intelligence Reform

Mobile Imagery Processing Element (MIPE)

The Mobile Imagery Processing Element (MIPE), STRATCOM’s wet film processing system, is a deployable ground station with 15 environmentally controlled vans and organic transportation and support equipment, to Riyadh. Originally designed for the SR-71 program, the MIPE lost its funding when the SR-71 retired. The 9th Reconnaissance Technical Squadron (9RTS) kept the system from falling into disrepair, but lacked the funds to properly maintain it. When Desert Shield began, the MIPE was in storage at Beale AFB.In September and October 1990, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Air Force Intelligence Directorate asked if the MIPE could deploy to Southwest Asia. Air Force Logistics Command authorized Houston Fearless Corporation to complete needed maintenance before deployment on 19 December 1990. Working around the clock, 9RTS and contractor personnel completed the work and loaded the MIPE aboard C-5s on 19 December.

The MIPE deployed to the Joint Imagery Processing Complex in Riyadh. The first U-2 IRIS-III mission was on 31 December and MIPE personnel processed the film on 1 January 1991. Before the arrival of the MIPE, film had to be flown to Germany for processing. But processing film in the MIPE is a time-consuming, labor-intensive operation, requiring about 12 hours for one roll of film. Equipment limitations and chemical processing dictate the time needed. Also, field commanders wanted many targets covered on each roll. Pinpointing each target and making individual prints slowed the process even more. In response to the ever-increasing demand for photographs the U-2 flew more camera missions. The U-2 output quickly, overwhelmed the MIPE's processing capability.

Upgrades

MIPE/CARS Compatibility Upgrades will upgrade components of the Mobile Imagery Processing Element (MIPE), STRATCOM’s wet film processing system to be compatible with the Contingency Airborne Reconnaissance System (CARS). This project ensures continued operability of the system which may provide the only post nuclear-strike capability to conduct damage assessment and assist in reconstitution of forces and allows interface with CARS segments to provide full ‘multi-int’ intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support.

MIPE Frequency Converter Units provide capability for the MIPE to connect to non-US standard commercial power. MIPE generators would be used as backup power sources or for critical operations only. Reduces fuel consumption, air/noise pollution.

The MIPE Effluent Processing System provides the MIPE an autonomous effluent processing capability. It provides a more cost effect processing system which requires less resources to operate. Reduces amount of effluent which must be shipped to the United States for processing.

MIPE Vanishing Vendors replaces components of the MIPE that are no longer supportable, no longer being produced, or cannot be procured through supply channels. Ensures continued operability of the system which may provide the only post nuclear-strike capability to conduct damage assessment and assist in reconstitution of forces.

Sources and Methods



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http://www.fas.org/irp/program/process/.htm
Created by John Pike
Maintained by Steven Aftergood

Updated Saturday, June 21, 1997 11:14:49 AM