National security



Overhead collection systems can also be referred to as overhead surveillance or just aerial surveillance [2]. National security is a vital and fundamental component of a state with respect to developments and generally peace and tranquility [1]. Overhead collection systems are the elemental ways to assemble state security information from above the surface of the Earth a propos inhabitants and regions. These overhead collection systems do gather round imagery intelligence (IMINT), measurement and signature intelligence (MASINT), and signals intelligence (SIGINT) [8]. In the present day, visual projection surveillance includes space-based arrangements like the satellites and the aerial collection platforms which vary from huge operated airplane to very miniature unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) [4].

Overhead surveillance has enormous gains. Under the study “Anticipating Surprise” it is reliable in offering checks on the challenges posed to the U.S. Security and Intelligence Community of providing strategic warning [1]. Aerial surveillance permits to gain intelligence on enemy lines, fortifications as well as troop movements.

Intelligence, surveillance as well as reconnaissance platforms (ISR), activities began way back in 1970s and it has to date capabilities to of permitting the military to keep an eye on the combat zones since the satellites are usually launched above [5]. Again it allows the army to bare strategic merit over their foes. This gain of the overhead surveillance was proved in both WWI and WWII where the belligerents and intransigents used overhead surveillance to attain intelligence on adversary lines, defenses as well as troop movements [9]. These services are achievable by overhead surveillance systems since they are able to provide 24-hour continuous watch.

Subsequent to WWII, the U.S. Air Force advanced both the airborne and space-based exploration stages for use in disfavor of the Soviet Union. Operated survey missions, however, proved quite risky and could result into prospective embarrassing upshots.

Overhead surveillance technological systems have so far evolved considerably. They have greatly increased the quantity and even quality of information which the policymakers, legislators as well as the war fighters can utilize to formulate vital, time-sensitive resolutions. For illustration, UAVs are able to remain above board for hours, days and even months [7]. They are therefore able to provide necessary pictorials, films and full-motion videotapes unswervingly to the base commanding officer on the soil [6].

Besides being used to combat and counter terrorism, overhead surveillance systems are also used domestically to grant real-time prop up to battle wildfires in California. Specifically, UAVs are often used to detect smugglers traversing U.S. borders [7]. In 2005 satellite gave images in Hurricane Katrina's repercussion, permit evaluation of the general damage.


Aerial surveillance programs are quite expensive. They may actually cost billions of dollars hence prove unsustainable in the long run []. The challenge to managing costs of overhead surveillance is that these are massively complex and needs a long time in building both the actual collection system and the processing as well as exploitation systems [3]. Additionally, using satellites domestically for purposes of security and law enforcement might infringe on rights to privacy hence challengeable in court [10].


I agree that the benefits of overhead collection systems are its capabilities in the realm of imagery and signals intelligence. In Iraq and Afghanistan, overhead collection systems proved quite useful during the conflict [11]. Both the satellite and UAVs duly allowed the U.S. armies to make out adversaries and accomplish superior precision in hitting and striking the targets [2]. Further, UAV has high capabilities use in army. It is suitable for tactical and strategic systems soar by infantry contingents as well as companies in the combat.


Overhead collection systems are very important for security surveillance but it also have drawbacks. For instance, the 1960 U-2 unpleasant occurrence was perhaps one of the cases of the risks and dangers related airborne surveillance [10]. Provision for sharing commercial images with overseas governments and even local nongovernmental organizations may permit unnecessary information leaks to the adversaries hence creates insecurity [2].


It is factual that overhead surveillance apparatus have technical shortcomings. For instance, satellites which are launched into the space have restricted by passes and trajectories. Further more, it is difficult to locate where a specific satellite would be at the time it will be needed. This make it difficult obtains good images and descriptions of the explicit area one is locating if there has been limited or no collection within a realistic time [9]. Detailed descriptions such as colour might also fail to come out properly. Besides, when more overheads are launched into space, there are high possibilities of them colliding and hence fail to achieve the surveillance objects.


1- Grabo, Cynthia M. 2004. Anticipating Surprise: Analysis for Strategic Warning, University Press of America.

2- O'Connor, Thomas. 200l. Intelligence Collection.from <>

3- Yenne book or on-line library sources on airborne collection

4- Reinhardt, James R., & quot; Future Employment of UAVs- Issues of Jointness, & quot; Joint Forces Quarterly. No. 22 (Summer 99), pp. 36-41 <>

5- GAO. 03-18-2004. Improved Strategic Planning Can Enhance DOD'S Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Efforts. Government Accounting Office Report

6- U.S. Government. Come Spy with Me -- UAV Offers a Bird's Eye View of the Battlefield. Transcript summary of video.

7- Coffey, Timothy and Montgomery, John A. 07-01-2004.The Emergence of Mini UAVs for Military Applications. Military Technology. A copy is available in documents folder in course materials.

8- Jacobs, Keith. 01-01-2004. Manned and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Right Mix for Future U.S. Navy Aviation. Naval Forces. A copy is available in documents folder in course materials.

9 - UAVs Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Predator Global Hawk < >

10- Covert / Paramilitary Ops Secret Military Intelligence <>

11- FAS. Airborne Reconnaissance Annex. <>

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