A Space Based Radar providing ground moving target indication (GMTI) could help sew up intelligence and targeting gaps that DoD faced during Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, a top U.S. Air Force official said on May 17.

“We need to start to TTX [table top exercise] what it is that the [Space Based Radar] constellation, that entire enterprise, might look like in the 2027-2028 timeframe,” Air Force Lt. Gen. Leah Lauderback, the service’s deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), said during a Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies virtual forum. “And then I think that we can get to a point where folks are understanding that there will be an exponential amount of data that is coming and more persisetence.”

The Space Based Radar is to replace the Northrop Grumman [NOC] Joint STARS aircraft for GMTI.

From June 2017 until June 2018, Lauderback was the director of intelligence at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait for the Combined Joint Task Force-OIR, according to her Air Force biography.

During OIR, “we had an issue not with JSTARS, but with persistence,” Lauderback said on May 17. “We didn’t have persistence to be able to chase ISIS around. The things that we had persistence with were MQ-9s. Global Hawks would help us, for sure, but, in a permissive environment like that, you can have that persistence. That persistence is very satisfying as a targeteer, somebody that wants to be able to track, in this case, ISIS maneuvering from one place to the next.”

“We need to do that for peer competitors as well, when or if we go into conflict,” she said. “Actually, I would say it’s before conflict even. There’s a lot of data that you can get from GMTI, if we have that persistence, to start to understand somebody’s pattern of life…I think GMTI can help us with that, to understand and characterize the battle space well before any conflict starts so I look forward to that endeavor.”

On the airborne side, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) may conduct a test of an experimental, long loiter time aircraft by July on a path to fulfill U.S. Central Command requirements for improved ISR coverage of Afghanistan (Defense Daily, May 16).

CENTCOM has said that long travel times for General Atomics’ MQ-9 Reapers has limited such coverage.

Army Gen. Michael Kurilla, the head of CENTCOM, has said that the command wants to increase ISR of Afghanistan by investing in “long duration, high altitude, alternative ISR that can go up for days and weeks because, right now, I’m spending 80 percent of my time transiting to the region to be able to collect over the top.”

The MQ-9As have flown to Afghanistan from allied air bases in the Arabian Peninsula. The Air Force has said that it is able to use Forward Arming and Refueling Points (FARPs) for MQ-9As on long missions.