WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army has signed an agreement to evaluate the use of space data from HawkEye 360, an Earth observation company that operates satellites to monitor radio-frequency signals emitted by electronic devices.
HawkEye 360 announced Aug. 25 it signed a two-year cooperative research and development agreement, known as a CRADA, with the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command.
The agreement is for the company to demonstrate applications of RF data and analytics for surveillance operations in support of troops in the field.
“We are excited to be able to evaluate the utility of this type of capability for the tactical warfighter,” Chip Hardy, division chief of the SMDC space applications division, said in a statement.
Alex Fox, HawkEye 360 chief growth officer, said the Army will identify military exercises where the RF data will be tested, for example, to detect GPS jamming or to locate enemy weapons systems.
Fox said HawkEye 360 and Army operators will downlink data from satellites and analyze it both on the company’s mobile ground stations and on Army systems. The data also will be used to tip and cue Army surveillance platforms.
Agreements with commercial remote-sensing companies allow the Army to work with unclassified data that can be shared with allies. Insights drawn from the location of electronic emitters can help “understand the battlefield,” said Fox.
Hawkeye 360 satellites can locate and characterize signals from devices like VHF radios, UHF push-to-talk radios, maritime and land-based radar systems, GPS-enable devices and emergency beacons. “The Army can use that information to neutralize the threat,” said Fox.
Although a CRADA does not commit the Army to buying services, a successful demonstration is the equivalent of a “Good Housekeeping seal of approval,” he said. The Army could later decide to buy RF data and analytics services directly from HawkEye 360 or from intelligence community agencies that already use the data.
The company launches satellites in clusters of three spacecraft each. It recently announced clusters 4 and 5 satellites have started operations. Its goal is to deploy a total of 20 clusters.
The Army’s agreement with HawkEye 360 follows other CRADAs the service signed with SpaceLink and with commercial remote sensing satellite operators such as Iceye and Capella Space.