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ISR Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) Thrust Area

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) thrust seeks to develop and leverage advanced technologies for applications in future intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems. It also seeks to enhance situational awareness to enable real-time tactical decision making for distributed operations and provide proactive and predictive capabilities for asymmetric and irregular warfare.

ISR's technology investment areas include:

  • Sensor Fields: Addressing sensor data collection and networking gaps by developing higher information content advanced sensors. Research in sensor fields includes entity recognition (sensors that can establish identity, biometrics) and urban domain (urban structure sensors and that can maintain surveillance over wide areas)
  • Relevant and Situational Information on Demand: Addressing capability gaps associated with the tactical processing of sensor data in order to enable indications and warnings. Research includes tag, track and locate (TTL), which enables the warfighter to detect and track entities of interest, and multi-modal sensor fusion and networking, which enables warfighters to maintain awareness of all available sensors and the mission relevance of their capabilities.
  • Actionable Intelligence for Expeditionary and Irregular Warfare: Addressing capability gaps associated with the translation of information to actionable intelligence – the ISR to C2 interface. Research includes warfighter interface and decision tools which are being developed to allow the warfighter to understand how to disrupt, influence and stimulate human networks and their behavior (cognitive IO). It also covers threat prediction models, which would allow the warfighter to expose enemy structure, determine intent and leverage cultural intelligence.

ISR Science and Technology Challenges


  • Biometric techniques based on whole body, face, voice, iris and fingerprint matching
  • Novel system architectures to increase efficiency associated with translating biometrics to actionable intelligence in bandwidth restricted tactical environments
  • Techniques that enable positive identification of people with some obscured features

Agile Tactical Sensor Networks

  • Models of multi-INT sensor fields that predict the ability of a populated sensor field to detect activities and activity threads of interest
  • Modeling environments capable of optimizing the placement of available sensors within an area of interest to achieve persistent surveillance

Acoustic Collection and Processing

  • Maturation of application services that support a workflow capable of translating a foreign language audio file into a detailed summary of what was discussed, written in English with rich metadata tags about entities of interest

Calculation of Area Atmospherics

  • Propose, code and validate mappings between higher level area atmospherics (e.g., sentiment, economic, political) that characterize the normal patterns in this activity, and micro-observations of an area derived from wide area surveillance, SIGINT, HUMINT and Open Source data

Decision Prediction

  • Mature and valid models describing actions a warfighter can take to shape a human terrain to gain military advantage

The Expeditionary Maneuver and Combating Terrorism Department welcomes innovative ideas and white papers in response to the ONR long-range broad agency announcement.

Download the ISR Thrust area's Willful Intent slides.

Contact Information

Name: Martin Kruger

Title: Thrust Manager

Department: Code 30

Division: Division

Email: martin.kruger1@navy.mil


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