The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and National Reconnaissance Office announced Sept. 5 that the EnhancedView contract will be transferred from NGA to the NRO.

Nearly a decade ago, the NGA awarded contracts worth over $7 billion to a pair of commercial satellite companies. The EnhancedView commercial imagery program built on existing government contracting for images from commercial satellites, and was designed to pay out over the next decade, ensuring government agencies got the intelligence they needed from cameras in orbit.

When the contracts were first awarded in 2010, EnhancedView was offered as a mechanism to provide “greater access, priority tasking and improved capability and capacity to government customers from the next series of U.S. commercial imagery satellites.”

The duration of the forever war has provided the viability of the contract and the information gathered. In 2012, as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan appeared to be winding toward an end, the reduced need and increased budget constraints led to a brief re-evaluation of the EnhancedView program, but it endured. Commercial satellite imagery is used for everything today from accurately assessing ISIS oil revenues to finding evidence of burnt villages.

“Commercial imagery is an increasingly important part of satisfying both existing and emerging security and intelligence challenges,” said NRO Director Betty Sapp.

“The award of the EVFO is an important first step in the NRO’s strategy of embracing commercial imagery as a key element of our current overhead architecture and a critical and integral element of our future overhead architecture.”

NGA Director Robert Cardillo suggests that the contract transfer will provide an opportunity for the intelligence community to “leverage data analytics and the broad spectrum of emerging commercial GEOINT services.”

Kelsey Atherton blogs about military technology for C4ISRNET, Fifth Domain, Defense News, and Military Times. He previously wrote for Popular Science, and also created, solicited, and edited content for a group blog on political science fiction and international security.

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