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Imagery intelligence (IMINT) is one of
several intelligence collection disciplines
used by the U.S. Intelligence Community to
gather information on foreign targets.
Specifically, IMINT involves the capture of
data from reconnaissance satellites and
aerial photography. IMINT, when used in
conjunction with other intelligence gathering
disciplines like signals intelligence (SIGINT)
and measurement and signature intelligence
(MASINT) provides intelligence analysts
with a comprehensive picture of the
environment they are targeting.
Examples of IMINT collection techniques
include use of unmanned aerial vehicles
(UAV) like the Predator and Global Hawk.
Older, well-known traditional aircraft
platforms like the SR-71 and U-2 spy planes
played a pivotal role in the Cold War by
providing senior national policymakers with
crucial information on Soviet missiles and
bombers. Highly classified satellites that
provide IMINT intelligence analysts with
cutting-edge, high-resolution images are
built in the United States by the National
Reconnaissance Office (NRO).
The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency
(NGA), headquartered in Bethesda,
Maryland, is responsible for geospatial
intelligence (GEOINT) that includes analysis
of high-resolution spectral, hyperspectral,
and electro-optical IMINT and MASINT
images. The NGA, formerly known as the
National Photographic Interpretation Center
(NPIC) and then the National Imagery and
Mapping Agency (NIMA), is part of the
Department of Defense.
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