In the era of information warfare, how is intelligence collected?

In the era of information warfare, in intelligence gathering activities, the implementation of technical means needs to rely on various sophisticated instruments, such as radars, imagers, etc., which play a role through platforms such as drones, satellites, aerostats, ships, and ground stations . With the continuous development of science and technology, the scope of use of the five major collection platforms is becoming wider and wider, and their role is becoming more and more important.

1. An airborne platform that can provide higher-precision images - UAV

Generally speaking, UAVs are flexible and can approach targets for surveillance, providing military commanders with near real-time, high-resolution intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance imagery. However, it cannot legally fly over what intelligence organizations have designated as a "no-fly zone" and is vulnerable to anti-aircraft weapons.

2. A space-borne platform that can provide a wider coverage - satellite

Satellites provide good Earth coverage and can collect imagery over larger areas more quickly than airborne systems. Moreover, reconnaissance satellites can legally fly over any country and obtain intelligence information. However, for weak signal targets that need to be collected at close range, satellites are powerless.

3. An unloaded platform that can stay for a long time - aerostat

An aerostat is a lighter-than-air vehicle that remains stationary in the air. It can stay in the same position for a long time or move around according to the task requirements. It can carry radar sensors, optical sensors, or signals intelligence sensors, or any combination.

4. A carrier-based platform capable of storing more electric energy - ship

Ships have an advantage when conducting remote sensing operations because they have longer dwell times and higher electrical energy reserves than aircraft or satellites. However, like the airborne platform, the instability of the ship will also limit the performance of the sensors it carries when encountering a turbulent environment.

5. A platform capable of monitoring space from the ground - ground station

Ground stations are used for air and space surveillance, surface surveillance, and close-range covert intelligence gathering. Some land-based platforms used for intelligence gathering are mobile or portable, but some of the most important platforms are fixed large sites, so the disadvantage is that they can only cover a fixed area. Apart from this disadvantage, fixed stations are very stable platforms with precisely known positions.

Some of the five collection platforms mentioned above can get close to the target for high accuracy and resolution, while others can provide wide coverage. Only by achieving a balance between coverage, accuracy and resolution, can more accurate and useful intelligence information be obtained. In reality, intelligence agencies of Western countries often use multiple platforms jointly to obtain better intelligence.

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