ISR as a Service: cutting through complexity

In 1668, Thomas Hobbes, coined the phrase ‘Scientia potentia est’ – literally, ‘knowledge is power’. In the international fight against crime and terrorism, the axiom holds true now more than ever.

But how do we get that knowledge?

The answer is ISR: the military shorthand for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance. And you’re probably already familiar with some of it.

We have all seen footage of Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) patrolling the skies and transmitting video evidence to analysts in a control centre, and there’s no doubting the value of such systems.
Thales has operated Watchkeeper, for example, (which was the first autonomous UAS to be certified for use in civilian airspace) and Lydian, which clocked up 100,000 flying hours for the British Army in Afghanistan and Iraq. 
In addition to UAS platforms, ISR technology can include everything from the simplest sensors right through to powerful multi-mode radar that can cover land sea and air all at the same time. And even taken together, all of this is just one part of a much bigger picture.

Equally important are the communications and mission systems, and a team of operators and analysts who work together to acquire, interpret and manage the data, perhaps relaying it to an intelligence base, a ground patrol, a Search and Rescue helicopter, a police unit, the coast guard or somewhere else.

A global and growing need for ISR

Clearly, ISR isn’t just for fighting terrorism. Porous borders allow the smuggling of high value goods, drugs, weapons and people. Governments, coast guards and police forces have an increasing need to understand exactly what is going on in their jurisdiction. Commercial and non-governmental organisations are examining the case for ISR, too.

“We are seeing interest from customers concerned about crime, piracy, poaching and the protection of their interests in large-scale agriculture, fishing, gas and oil,” said Matt Avison, Thales UK’s ISR Sales Director.

“But once they start looking into acquiring their own ISR solutions they start to see what a huge commitment that can be.”

Cutting through complexity

The reason that ISR sounds so complicated and expensive is because it is. And yet, for the customer at least, it doesn’t have to be.

Thales now provides a bespoke, end-to-end ISR service, including all the personnel to operate the entire system and to capture, analyse and manage the data. There’s nothing to buy, no one to train and the implementation is surprisingly quick. You can pay by the month, by the hour or by the pixel: whatever suits you best.

What’s more it’s easy to upgrade the capability as and when needed – when the threat changes or the technology evolves, for instance.

‘Knowledge is power’ may be a cliché, but it’s as true today as it was when Thomas Hobbes wrote, ‘Scientia potentia est’ more than 300 years ago. And now, with ISR as a service, acquiring that knowledge has become easier, quicker and more affordable.