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US Space Force looking to deploy radar satellites to track moving targets on the ground

The US Space Force and US Air Force are "actively working" to deploy satellites with the concept of Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI). The idea is to use small radar satellites to track moving objects on the ground, with the participation of the commercial space industry, allowing the government to take advantage of privately funded technologies.

Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System aircraft operation. Credit: US Air Force

The US Air Force currently uses large aircraft known as the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) equipped with radar sensors to discriminate targets on the ground. JSTARS require large crews and the Air Force has for years been concerned that its aircraft and operators are vulnerable to enemy air defense missiles when flying over combat zones.

Radar satellites and space surveillance, in general, have been entrusted to the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). There are increasing demands for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) at the tactical level and this will become a “growth area” for the Space Force. These new systems can be deployed at a lower cost, as launch and satellite services are now more accessible.

With this project, the space-based GMTI system will replace part of the JSTARS detection capability, overcoming the range limitations of aerial platforms and providing resources in any type of environment.

The intention is that the Space Force, the Air Force and the US Intelligence community work in a complementary way.

May initiatives like this serve as an example and inspiration for emerging countries, such as Brazil.

(Translated and adapted from an article published on the Space News website, available at

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