IMINT, is facing profound changes. Imagery is collected in essentially three ways, satellites, manned aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
The satellite program that covered the Soviet Union and acquired highly accurate intelligence concerning submarines, missiles, bombers, and other military targets is perhaps the greatest achievement of the U.S. Intelligence Community — it served as a foundation for defense planning and strategic planning that led to the end of the Cold War. In today’s environment, there is a greater number of collection targets than existed during the Cold War and more satellites are required, especially those that can be maneuvered to collect information about a variety of targets.
At the same time, the availability of high-quality commercial satelliteimagery and its widespread use by federal agencies has raised questions about the extent to which coverage from the private sector can meet the requirements of intelligence agencies. High altitude UAVs such as the Global Hawk may also provide surveillance capabilities that overlap those of satellites.