1971: ANSER Enters the Electronic Warfare Age
By the start of the 1970s, the work of Analytic Services had so diversified that the Board of Trustees started to include a list of program- and project-specific acronyms and definitions in their meeting minutes. Among that growing nomenclature were terms related to surveillance, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare—a collective area in which ANSER began to work at that time, under the aegis of the Air Force Director of Reconnaissance and Electronic Warfare (AF/RDR).
What began as a bit of ANSER work for the AF/RDR in 1969 led to bigger contract work with the directorate in 1970. But it was the AF/RDR’s establishment of a new program and analysis group later that year that paved the way for major ANSER research in electronic warfare in 1971.
The initial work for AF/RDR in 1970 lasted for only nine months, but ANSER’s efforts on four projects were considerable. High-altitude cameras on the RF-4C reconnaissance aircraft and targeting accuracy related to photographs taken by that aircraft were two of the projects. Another project focused on “Compass Dwell,” a concept for remotely monitoring and collecting data on electronic signals through the use of unmanned aircraft or drones. For that, ANSER studied the feasibility of the aircraft performance and electronic equipment requirements.
By 1971, ANSER’s work for the AF/RDR concentrated on four areas: 1) reconnaissance, surveillance, and electronic warfare drones; 2) the value of multisensor information; 3) vulnerability of certain kinds of surveillance drones to electronic countermeasures; and 4) planning for the RF-4C reconnaissance aircraft. The drone work had prompted the AF/RDR to establish a Drone Management Group, and ANSER worked closely with them on their projects.
In response to all of these projects—and in anticipation of what other related work might come their way—ANSER set up a Reconnaissance Division. The work demanded efforts the size of an organizational branch.
Organizing to manage such work helped prepare ANSER for the work’s time-sensitive demands—demands that sometimes trumped organization, causing analysts to drop one endeavor in mid-stream to complete another. For example, at one point the AF/RDR asked ANSER to drop temporarily a Capabilities Master Plan they had been developing for drones. The directorate was writing an Area Coordinating Paper (ACP)—a major Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) document that outlined actions to be taken in a given mission area—and they needed ANSER to perform analyses for it. The subject of the paper: drones. The ACP was submitted with ANSER help and was “very well received,” the Board later noted in its minutes.
Such interruptions happened to individual analysts as well. One ANSER analyst who was performing a vulnerability analysis on the Compass Dwell surveillance drone had to halt the work immediately when he was called upon to assist in a higher priority special electronic warfare study. When that study was over, the analyst returned to the vulnerability study. “This kind of special assistance frequently has substantial impact on our projects,” the Board noted.
After a year’s worth of this work, however, that kind of assistance was earning ANSER wide recognition for their proven expertise in electronic warfare. By late 1971, the Drone Management Group was increasingly turning to ANSER for assistance on time-urgent problems.
And that reputation was increasingly sitting the company at the table of more high-level work, as with a joint study on high-altitude drones that year that included the OSD, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Air Staff, and ANSER.