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Tactical Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR) System Engineering

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Technical Training Short On Site Course Quote This 2-day Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR) course covers requirement development, technologies, implementations, design considerations and examples associated with forming an ISR system for tactical applications. The course has been designed to familiarize and provide detailed information usable by the audience to discern key decision factors regarding ISR sensors, and system designs, and implementations. The course level has been designed to support those in the roles of: systems engineer, design engineer, software developer (real-time embedded programming, analytical data processing, and interactive programming,), WSN researcher, WSN or ISR program managers and decision-makers, all who desire an understanding ISR missions and systems.

Day 1 discusses background, overall objectives, and considerations associated with individual technologies (sensors, communication, protocols, interfaces, and system engineering) used by ISR designers. Day 1 chapters were developed to insure a common understating of terminology, underlying technologies, and critical aspects that define an ISR system. Topics include: ISR objectives and requirements flowdown, optimization of sensor designs, networking considerations, data communications implementation, system performance and evaluation, platforms, and integration into existing ISR (and situational awareness, SA) architectures. Passive sensor modalities such as imagers (visible, and infrared, IR), magnetometers, acoustic, and seismic are discussed, as are active sensor modalities including laser and RF (ultrawideband, UWB) radars. Day 1 will also provide an initial presentation of ISR evaluation tools, ISR architectures, and system considerations, which includes overviews on tracking performance as well as discrimination evaluation.

Day 2 furthers ISR understanding via case studies as well as future trends to consider. In-depth presentation of ISR evaluation tools, ISR architectures, and system considerations are continued from Day 1. Imaging (visible, IR) sensors, and associated performance evaluation, are discussed. Standards pertinent to ISR are introduced including those associated with sensor harmonization (IEEE-1451), symbology (MILSTD-2525C), and interfaces associated with existent situational awareness (e.g., tactical data via C2PC workstations) and planning tools.

Chapters for this course are designed to:

(1) Familiarize the audience with the difficulties associated with current ISR systems (and missions)

(2) Provide an approach useful to the student for evaluating applicability and effectiveness of various technologies to their ISR needs.

(3) Address real ISR elements, objectives, and systems

(4) Provide an assessment of state-of-the-art ISR capability, including addressing ISR platforms (e.g., UAVs) and emergent standards associated with ISR components.

Due to classification considerations, strategic and classified ISR aspects are not presented within this course to maintain open enrollment.



Timothy D. Cole Timothy D. Cole is a leading authority with 30 years of experience in the design, development, and deployment of remote sensors. While at Applied Physics Laboratory for 21 years, Tim was awarded the NASA Achievement Award in connection with the design, development and operation of the Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) Laser Radar. He was also the initial technical lead for the New Horizons LOng-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI instrument) for the Pluto-Kuiper belt object (KBO) mission.

During his >10-year career with Raytheon and Northrop Grumman (NG), Tim designed and implemented ISR data communication architectures, low-cost wireless sensor node (WSN) systems, and an over-the-horizon (OTH-T) targeting system. In recognition of accomplishing these these tasks, he was selected as an NG Technical Fellow. Tim has conducted numerous research programs to further enhance ad hoc sensor nets and low-cost/low-power sensor modalities. He has successfully designed and conducted field tests that employ remote sensing systems and ISR nets, which included sensor web enablement, micro-laser radars, and self-organizing WSN motefields.

Mr. Cole holds multiple degrees in Electrical Engineering as well as in Technical Management. He now works with NASA/GSFC in the development and integration of the ICESat- 2 ATLAS global laser altimeter mission.

Contact these instructors (please mention course name in the subject line)

What You Will Learn:

  • How to interpret and analyze ISR system requirements at the subsystem and overall system levels. This includes the process of generating system design objectives and key performance parameters (KPPs).
  • To develop and use existing evaluation “tools” to evaluate limitations and capabilities exhibited by ISR system(s), end-to-end.
  • Which sensor technologies provide what capability, including how imagers (EO/IR), radar, laser radar, and other sensor modalities function within tactical ISR systems.
  • How to consider false alarms while maintaining an acceptable level of detection probability via working the “trade-off space”.
  • Design rules associated with object detection, tracking, and identification
  • How to manage distributed ISR assets and implement successful exfiltration of vital sensor data products to users that require such (actionable timeliness).
  • How to support seamless integration of ISR system(s) to situational analyses and common operating (COP) architectures, such as C2PC or FalconView.
  • Which effective set of “analysis” tools exist that can aid in evaluating ISR components, systems, requirements verification (and validation), and/or effective deployment and maintenance of an ISR system
  • Discussion of standards that provide value-added capabilities, including: sensor harmonization and sensor web enablement (SWE) technologies.

Course Outline:

  1. Overview of ISR systems. Including definitions, objectives, and approaches.
  2. Requirement development. Tracking of requirements and responsive design implementation(s).
  3. Sensor modalities and design. Capabilities, evaluation criteria, and modeling approach: Electro-optical imagers (EO/IR), Radar (including ultrawideband, UWB), Laser radar, Seismic/Acoustic monitoring, Ad hoc wireless sensor nodes (WSN).
  4. Wireless Sensor Networking (WSN). Low-power efficient networking, microcontroller-based processing, power-saving and self-healing strategies.
  5. Data communication systems. WSN-based and exfiltration (worldwide) architectures. Protocols employed and consideration of data communication trade-offs.
  6. Geolocating sensors and tracked targets. Positioning of the sensor field and ability to discern object location and velocity.
  7. Target tracking and identification. Discriminates used by ISR systems and track formation by ISR systems. Tagging, tracking & locating targets of interest (TTL), and non-cooperative target identification (NCID).
  8. Tactical ISR Platforms. Land-based, air-based, and sea-based systems.
  9. Situational awareness platforms. Getting timely and understandable ISR data to the decision-makers. Injecting data from, and controlling of, ISR systems.
  10. ISR system performance and evaluation tools. Gauging a viable ISR system and associated capabilities and limitations.
  11. Case studies. Review of existing, and planned, ISR systems throughout the 2-day course.


    Tuition for this two day course is $1390 per person at one of our scheduled public courses. Onsite pricing is available. Please call us at 410-956-8805 or send an email to

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