Coalition Aerial Surveillance and Reconnaissance: the CAESAR project

Coalition Aerial Surveillance and Reconnaissance: the CAESAR project

Stephen J. Bond

Coalition Aerial Surveillance and Reconnaissance or CAESAR is an intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) interoperability project. Seven nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Consultation, Command and Control Agency (NC3A) are working the project to integrate, exploit, and share data from ground moving target indicator (MTI) and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery surveillance platforms to the associated coalition ground stations (see Figure 1). The seven participating nations, all NATO members, include the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, and the United Kingdom. Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) has endorsed the project.

The CAESAR Project will maximize the efficient and effective use of high-demand, low-density surveillance platforms and ground stations among the coalition member nations. The Project’s goals are to establish interoperability through technical interface, architectural design, and operational standards for employing surveillance platforms and ground stations to support the U.S. and other coalition ground, air, and maritime commanders (see Figure 2). For the United States, CAESAR is an Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD). The Air Force is the lead Service for the demonstration and provides the technical management for the U.S. participants in the project through the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) Program Office, Electronic Systems Command, at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts. The U.S. Army Intelligence Center (USAIC) provides operational management for the Project. Representatives from all the Services participate with the r epresentatives from the other member nations in coalition working groups. International memorandums of agreement and security arrangements, signed by the participating nations, establish and govern the Project.

Project Objectives

The specific objectives for the Project are to–

* Produce interoperable concepts of operations (CONOPs) and tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) for use by coalition, joint, ground, air, and maritime commanders for the employment of multinational ground MTI and SAR assets.

* Develop or improve existing technologies to achieve technical interoperability among the participating surveillance platforms and sensors. This includes interchange formats, registration, and exploitation algorithms mission planning and tasking tools, and architectures for networked and distributed processing (see Figure 3.). Each ground station is capable of receiving and sharing data in near-real time to provide a common view of the battlefield.

* Conduct annual exercises to evaluate program technology and operational concepts. Integrate these technical and operational capabilities within the supporting commands and architectures of the United States, other coalition nations, and NATO.

Participating Systems

The national platforms participating in CAESAR appear in Figure 4 and a listing of all participants and assets is in Figure 5. The coalition systems participating in the CAESAR Project include the following:

* Canadian Radar Satellite (RADARSAT) system and associated ground stations. RADARSAT 1 is an operational commercial satellite providing 7- to 100-meters resolution SAR imagery, depending on the radar beam mode and incidence angle. RADARSAT 2 is currently in development; when operational, it will provide radar images at better than 3-meter resolution and have an experimental ground MTI capability.

* French Helicoptere d’Observation Radar et d’ Investigation sur Zone or HORIZON system and associated ground stations. The targeting radar produces ground MTI and its platform is a Eurocopter Cougar AS-532 UL helicopter.

* Developmental German inter- operable imagery workstation to display and exploit ground MTI and SAR information.

* Italian CRESO (Complesso Radar Eliportato per la Sorveglianza) and associated ground stations. Installed aboard an Augusta Bell AB-412 helicopter, the battlefield surveillance radar provides ground MTI. The platform has an electronic warfare support measures (ESM) capability.

* Norwegian Mobile Tactical Operations Center (MTOC) for receiving and exploiting ground MTI and SAR information. Norway is further demonstrating and integrating MTI and SAR information within the Norwegian command, control, and information system.

* The United Kingdom is developing the ASTOR or Airborne Stand-Off Radar. This system’s platform is a modified Global Express airframe carrying a multimode ground surveillance radar (GSR) capable of both ground MTI and SAR imagery.

The standards under development for interoperability through CAESAR will apply to all U.S. platforms and ground station systems providing, receiving, or processing MTI and SAR data. This includes current and future Army systems, including Airborne Reconnaissance Low (ARL), Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (TUAV), Aerial Common Sensor (ACS), and the Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A). U.S. systems currently participating in the CAESAR Project include–

* E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS).

* U-2 Advanced Synthetic Airborne Radar System (ASARS) Improvement Program (AIP).

* RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV.

* RQ-1 A/B Predator UAV.

* Common Ground Station (CGS) and the Joint Services Workstation (JSWS).

* The experimental Moving Target Indicator Exploitation (MTIX) Workstation.

Project Background

The CAESAR Project has only formally existed since 2000, but efforts have been underway since 1995 to work issues associated with interoperability of NATO member nations’ ISR assets. The work began through the efforts of NC3A, located at The Hague, Netherlands. In 1997, France hosted six of the current CAESAR nations in the Paris Interoperability Experiment. At this experiment, one Joint STARS aircraft and a forerunner to the CGS (the Joint STARS Ground Station Module), and two French HORIZON helicopters with two HORIZON ground stations gathered and exchanged data on ground vehicle movement. Both the U.S. Joint STARS and French HORIZON successfully provided surveillance of ground and helicopter traffic in Kosovo in Operation ALLIED FORCE in 1999. However, this operation specifically pointed the need to establish greater interoperability and integration of ISR assets to support coalition military operations.

Since then, CAESAR-related platforms, simulators, ground stations, and crews have participated in and further demonstrated interoperability in three SHAPE-sponsored exercises in Europe. These exercises were:

* JOINT PROJECT OPTIC WINDMILL/CLEAN HUNTER 1999, an Allied Forces North (AFNORTH) theater missile defense (TMD) exercise.


* STRONG RESOLVE 2002, an AFNORTH/Joint Command North exercise with CAESAR assets primarily supporting the land component commanders in Norway.

As a result of these exercises and other laboratory simulation tests, technical and architectural interoperability have become a reality. SHAPE- and coalition-endorsed CONOPs and TTP exist today. These documents will become a part of U.S. joint and Service doctrine through on-going coordination with U.S. Joint Forces Command; the multiService Air, Land, and Sea Application (ALSA) Center at Langley, Virginia; Headquarters, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) and USAIC; and the U.S. Air Forces’ Aerospace Command and Control, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Center (A2CISRC) also at Langley, Virginia.

The CAESAR Project has received numerous awards among the member nations. These include selection in the United States as the Department of Defense’s “ACTD Operational Manager of the Year” award for 2001, and the “ACTD Technical Manager of the Year” award for 2002.

The Project has funding as an ACTD through 2005, with supporting major exercises in planning for 2003 and 2004. There are quarterly meetings of the three coalition working groups: operations, technical interoperability, and architecture development. The project also plans follow-on ACTD and project efforts.

Through the CAESAR Project, a unit with CGS will be able to receive information from the participating coalition surveillance platforms. Coalition commanders operating in the joint operations area with compatible workstations can also receive the same ISR information, nearly simultaneously, from the designated U.S. and other coalition surveillance platforms. When networked through tactical communications, the CGS operators also collaborate with other workstation operators in the coalition network of ground stations and retrieve information from a shared database.


Widely considered a Department of Defense and SHAPE/NATO “success story,” the CAESAR ACTD and Coalition Project uses the philosophy of practicing before crises; these on-going efforts will allow expanded situational awareness and enhanced capability for targeting. The Project efforts provide commanders from brigade to the operational levels with greater access to ISR assets and enable a sharing of data. These efforts will support future operations and ultimately allow U.S. and other coalition commanders to gain a common perspective and improved understanding of the battlefield. While there is still work to accomplish, efforts are well underway to achieve interoperability with these critical high-demand, low-density surveillance assets.





Figure 5. CAESAR Participants and Systems for Integration.


Space-based radar ground MTI


HORIZON and ground stations


Interoperable exploitation work station


CRESO and ground stations


Alliance ground surveillance (AGS) simulations


Mobile Tactical Operations Center

United Kingdom

ASTOR and Ground Stations

United States

Platforms: Joint STARS U-2, ASARS, Predator, and Global Hawk

Ground Stations: Common Ground Station (CGS)/Joint Services Workstation

(JSWS), Moving Target Indicator Exploitation (MTIX) Workstation

Colonel Steve Bond is the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Systems Manager for Joint STARS, Common Ground Station, and Joint Tactical Terminal; he was recently assigned responsibilities for the objective Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A). He is also the U.S. Operational Manager for the CAESAR ACTD and chairs the Seven-Nation Coalition Operations Working Group. In recognition for the outstanding work performed by members of the CAESAR Project, Colonel Bond was selected the Department of Defense ACTD Operations Manager-of-the-Year in 2001. He holds a Master of Arts degree in History from the University of Kansas and is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College. Readers can reach him via E-mail at bonds

COPYRIGHT 2003 U.S. Army Intelligence Center and School

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group