Incorporation of Manned and Unmanned Assets into collection strategies


Incorporation of Manned and Unmanned Assets into collection strategies

            Literal and non-literal collection strategies are often used in the collection of intelligence in various scenarios. Clark (2013), describes literal collection methods as comprising of the common day information collection strategy that requires no expertise to decode the given information. On the other hand, the non-literal collection strategies embodies intelligence gathering via technical equipment that would later require an expert to accurately decode the information.  Additionally, in the intelligence gathering methods, both manned and unmanned assets can be incorporated to the intelligence collection methods to improve the service of the intelligence team. Manned assets require a human operator in order to function. Unmanned assets does not require a human operator to function and are mostly operated remotely through automated functions. Both manned and unmanned assets can contain either lethal or non-lethal load.

            HUMINT is the vital intelligence collection method in the literal strategies. Clark (2013)  ,asserts that the method is one of the oldest methods of intelligence collection and easy to undertake in the team due to the availability of the experts.  HUMINT top priority in intelligence gathering emanates from its ability to collect raw data in the case scenario. The raw data is then correlated with existing intelligence on the case scenario to arrive at a conclusion on the subject matter.  The HUMINT intelligence on case scenario would involve the manned assets of airborne crafts that would help in gathering the required intelligence. Manned Reconnaissance Aircraft, according to CSR (1998) report plays a vital role in the collection of intelligence on the case scenario with an additional availability of the operator on bound.

            Manned Aircraft provides great flexibility in the data gathering scenario as the operator can easily change the flight path in case there is unexpected change of Target. For instance in the speed boat testing on the live target, the manned aircraft can make an adjustment on the flight path based on the location of the target.  The crew may change directions instantly so as to allow for the aerial capturing of all the necessary images on the target.  HUMINT coupled with the intelligence from manned aircraft has high responsiveness as compared to other methods such as COMINT. The manned aircraft can be dispatched and get the required intelligence in a matter of hours. The fixation of sensors on the aircraft helps in the quick location of the ground target and getting the required intelligence.

            CSR (1998) outlines U-2 aircraft as one of the most vital assets in collection of both the tactical and strategic intelligence.  U- 2 aircraft is fixed with sensors that can collect imagery and signal intelligence from the ground to the service station. Manned U-2 aircraft helps in transmission of the information on the target in nearly on- time sequence.             In the case Scenario on the Chinese building an Island on the South East China Sea, The U-2 aircraft can be used in the collection of the real time information concerning the happenings on the ground such as the physical developments and the kind of machinery used. HUMINT can use manned assets in collection of the real time information that would help in strategizing for the Combat activity as well as planning for future actions.

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              The manned airborne assets shall additionally help in the ELINT collection strategies. Benard (2009) describes ELINT as the information that is collected in form of the electrical signals.  As a non-literal collection strategy, the intelligence gathered through the process needs experts so as to be accurately decoded.   ELINT comprises of three distinct components. The first one is the technical Intelligence (TechELINT). It comprises of the availing of the crucial intelligence concerning the target such as modes of operation, emission characteristics, machinery used, signal structure, of the target location.  The second component of ELINT is the operational intelligence (OpeLINT) shall help in forecasting the activities that are undertaken around a target. For instance, the case scenario of the Chinese Island building shall be properly forecasted to determine the extent of the operations in the site.  The Third component of ELINT is the TELINT which helps in interception of the communication activities between various parties in the case so as to achieve a conclusion on the intelligence gathered.

            Manned Aircraft shall involve the ELINT components in relying of strategic information concerning the case. In the Speed Boat demonstration case scenario the U-2 aircrafts shall gather intelligence through relying live data on the case inclusive of the speed boat and the target used in the demonstration. The images transmitted coupled with information from intelligence gathered from intercepted conversation shall help in analysis of the intent behind the design of the speed boat. As well as the interest of the distinct customer groups on the speed boat.

            Imagery intelligence (IMINT) is a non-literal collection strategy that shall fit in the incorporation of the manned and unmanned airborne assets in the collection of intelligence. IMINT according to Kovarick (2011) is the collection of intelligence in form of images concerning a target in a case. In the IMDEX exhibition in Singapore, the IMINT collection strategy shall be useful in collection of intelligence concerning the speed boat, the target, and the various parties involved.

            IMINT combined with manned airborne assets shall help in the acquisition of the images on the different targets on the case scenario.  The U-2 manned aircraft is fitted with sensors that help in the transmission of images concerning the case scenario. As such, the images are relayed in a near real time manner due to their flexibility of the aircraft (CSR, 1998). The IMINT acquired through the U-2 manned aircraft shall help in the realization of the activities in case scenario through various angles. The operator can easily change the direction of the aircraft to fit the images requirement by intelligence team.

             Satellites as part of the unmanned assets help in the achievement of the real- time transmissions of images concerning case scenarios as well as distinct targets. IMINT through the use of satellite is practically safe as the existence of the Satellites in space causes no physical or environmental danger to human beings.  CSR (1998), states that the IMINT through the use of satellites helps in the acquisition of the highly detailed images concerning a particular target.   In the case scenario of the IMDEX speed boat exhibition in Singapore, satellites would capture specific details concerning the target as well as the speed boat itself. The information would contain particulars concerning the materials used in the designing of the boat as well as the technology for its operation.

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             Satellites are important in the mapping up of images concerning large case scenarios. In the Chinese Island development, Satellites’ would be ideal for mapping up the information concerning the various components on the location. CSR (1998) describes an additional advantage of using the satellites as their ability to use relay images even during the night. Normal IMINT equipment would not relay quality images in a dark scene. However, through the use of infra-red technologies, radar technologies, and an incorporation of an array of sensors, satellites have the capability to see through the dark clouds, smoke, and even at night while it is dark. It would be an ideal way of acquiring images while everyone else is resting especially at the night. The images on the Chinese Island under development would easily be clearly be transmitted and intelligence on the extent of the work gathered.           

            In the endeavor to incorporate both the manned and unmanned airborne assets in the collection strategies, the team needs to consider the following. Manned aircrafts are susceptible to attacks from hostile enemies. The operator’s life is always at risk. The initial cost of acquisition of the unmanned assets inclusive of the expertise in conducting their operations might be costly for the team.  An important aspect of lowering the costs would be the hiring of experts to conduct the team’s assets. There needs a proper planning on how the unmanned assets as well as the manned assets shall be operated to ensure a cost-effective methodology. The main advantage of the assets usage in the intelligence acquisition is the clarity in relay of images and authenticity that lacks in some literal collection strategies.


Clark, R. M. (2013). Perspectives on intelligence Collection. Journal of US Intelligence Collection, 20, 47-52.

CSR (1998) Intelligence Collection Platforms: Satellites, Manned Aircraft, and UAVs. Retrieved on August 7, 2020 from

Kovařík, V.(2011).Imagery Intelligence (IMINT). Univerzita obrany.


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