WASHINGTON – Eagle Vision, a collection of deployable satellite downlink stations that process commercial satellite imagery in near-real time, has enabled Air Force Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief efforts for nearly three decades.
The stations’ ability to quickly collect and disseminate the latest satellite imagery to Airmen, combatant commands, U.S. government agencies and international partners makes the system a unique enabling capability when time is of the essence, such as responding to hurricanes.
In Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, the island did not look anything like it did before the storm, said Senior Master Sgt. John Barr, Combat Control functional manager for the Air National Guard Ground Special Operations Forces. “So current imagery, streaming directly to our devices, was critical to effective decision making.”
Those decisions, like route planning to reach disaster victims, helicopter landing zone analyses, and identifying and mitigating hazards, were improved with the latest data provided through Eagle Vision.
Developed in the opening days of the Gulf War using French satellite imagery, Eagle Vision met the needs of warfighters and planners by collecting, processing and distributing the most up-to-date imagery from commercial systems.
“We saw the incredible benefits that Eagle Vision could provide by the second day of the Gulf War,” said James (Snake) Clark, Senior Executive Service member, Director of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Modernization and Infrastructure, Deputy Chief of Staff for ISR, Headquarters U.S. Air Force.
“From those early days, the partnership with the French was crucial in developing Eagle Vision,” said Mr. Clark, who helped introduce the architecture that would form Eagle Vision in the 1990s. “That partnership, and their expertise, laid the groundwork.”
That groundwork informed the ultimate architecture of Eagle Vision; an acquisition segment that downlinks imagery, an integration segment that processes and formats imagery, and dissemination of tailored products to first responders and warfighters.
Currently, the Eagle Vision enterprise is operated and maintained by active duty, Air National Guard, Air Reserve, civilian Airmen and in continued partnership with French contractor support across five satellite downlink stations positioned around the world.
“It’s a system we use all the time,” said Mr. Clark, “for every major conflict and disaster response since 2000.”