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DoD Budget Cuts to Impact Surveillance Programs

Funding for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) will decline through 2017

U.S. government budget cuts will reduce Department of Defense surveillance and reconnaissance funding through 2017, but full-motion video will continue to be an area of robust growth, says Frost & Sullivan, a market analyst and consultant.

A new analysis of DoD spending by Frost & Sullivan says in addition to surveillance and reconnaissance, the economic circumstances and troop withdrawals will reduce command, control, communications, computers and intelligence—collectively known as C4ISR—funding. That will place restrictions on DoD spending to applications that have direct relevance to counter-insurgency or terror operations, the consultant says.

The DoD C4ISR budget request for federal fiscal year 2013 is $42.97 billion—which is about 6.9 percent of the total DoD budget—and it will decline at a moderate rate through 2017, according to Frost & Sullivan. There will be fewer platforms of all types, as the DoD will eschew high-end platforms in favor of proven and reliable designs that afford maximum flexibility, Frost & Sullivan says.

Planned force structure reductions, particularly for ground forces and satellite assets, will curtail C4ISR spending and instead, turn the DoD’s attention to intelligence and special operations, the company says.

However, inexpensive electronic warfare and information operation platforms such as aerostats and commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) tools like wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) will experience the fastest growth rate until 2017, Frost & Sullivan predicts. The DoD is perceptibly leaning toward multi-purpose technologies that fuse various collection disciplines and standardize reporting. Processing and dissemination of full-motion video will also continue to be an area of robust growth, the firm says.

“Funding by segment reflects an attempt to rebalance technical sensors and collection with less expensive, but vital analysis and ‘people skills’ required for successful military operations,” said Brad Curran, Frost & Sullivan senior industry analyst. “The DoD budget will be mostly earmarked for acquiring cost-efficient, general-purpose equipment,” he added.