Tactical Defense Space Reconnaissance Program

TacDSR Program

The TacDSR Program is a major functional program within the Department of Defense (DoD) Military Intelligence Program (MIP). Authority to oversee the day-to-day management of the TacDSR program has been delegated to the Director, National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), and sub-delegated to the NRO Mission Integration Directorate (MID).

TacDSR directly answers emerging warfighting intelligence requirements of the Combatant Commands (CCMDs), Services, and other tactical users. Projects within the scope of the program include, but are not limited to:

  • Prototype integration into vehicles, aircraft, ships, weapons, special operations platforms, ground stations, and combat support equipment.
  • Capabilities that bridge gaps in joint, theater, and service National Systems Data (NSD) dissemination capabilities through the use of communications and networking technology.
  • Software, hardware, and network equipment inserted into the Tasking, Collection, Processing, Exploitation, Dissemination (TCPED) process for military users.

TacDSR consists of two acquisition programs: Military Exploitation of Reconnaissance and Intelligence Technology (MERIT) and Combat Systems Integration (CSI). Between MERIT and CSI, TacDSR funds approximately 30 projects each year; these projects last from one to two years and receive up to about $1.75M in funding. TacDSR supports the School of Warfighter Support (SWS) which provides individual and unit training ranging from classroom instruction to mobile training teams and on-line, distance learning tailored to specific customer needs. Additionally, TacDSR supports the Agency Support Team (AST) which provides senior military officers to serve as NRO Field Representatives at CCMDs, services, and intelligence facilities worldwide. 


The TacDSR program office desires to continue to improve on an already impressive set of delivered capabilities by reaching out to new developers or government organizations with potentially game changing ideas. Each year, TacDSR Outreach POCs visit technology expos/symposiums to engage potentially interested organizations regarding the TacDSR program.  TacDSR Outreach Personnel are available to come out to your organization to further explain the program and answer any questions you might have. If desired, please contact the TacDSR outreach POC.


The MERIT Program examines and assesses critical technology developments with the goal of increasing the utility and accessibility of NRO Overhead Systems data for joint warfighting commanders. The program’s overarching goal is to provide enhanced NRO Overhead Systems support to military operations with an emphasis on tailoring assets and capabilities to satisfy operational needs as identified by the Combatant Commands, their Component Commands, and the Military Services. NRO’s mission partners through their participation in the MERIT process, make available their experience in identifying, comprehending and addressing operational needs in their respective areas of expertise. MERIT allocates resources for the rapid development and prototyping of new technologies that expand the utility and accessibility of NRO acquired data and systems for the Warfighter. The MERIT program focuses primarily on project selection and funding for the development of technologies that can transition to acquisition or integrate into existing program operational baselines.

The MERIT program is managed by MID). Individual MERIT projects are sponsored, selected, and managed by the members of the MERIT Steering Committee (MSC).


The objective of the CSI program is to accelerate the integration of NRO Overhead Systems related applied development into combat systems, platforms, or architectures that completely or partially address the needs of the Combatant Commands and the Military Services. Projects within the scope of the CSI program include, but are not limited to, prototype integration into: vehicles, aircraft, ships, weapons, mission planning tools, special operations systems or platforms, ground stations and combat support equipment (e.g., command and control; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; and transport). CSI solutions may consist of software, hardware, exploitation tools, or system engineering solutions that support Warfighter requirements. The CSI program issues an annual Broad Agency Announcement (BAA)/Government Sources Sought Announcement (GSSA) soliciting proposals for the following fiscal year. To ensure proposals of varying scope and specialty area are submitted for consideration, multiple proposal sources are sought, including those from: Industry, Academia, Government Labs, and Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDC). Preference is given to projects whose impacts have the potential to significantly advance Warfighter platform capabilities and mission sets.

CSI project deliverables must fall within one of two categories: a) integrate NRO Overhead Systems data or capabilities into a current or future Program of Record (PoR) or b) prototype demonstration in an operational environment. The proposal must clearly state the value of this new capability to the Warfighter (not the value to the analyst or to a system), and show, to the maximum extent possible, how this capability fits into a larger integrated capability package. 


The School of Warfighter Support (SWS) educates DOD and Intelligence Community users on space reconnaissance systems through exercise support, classroom instruction, distance learning, and mobile training teams. The Exercise Support Team of the SWS participates in  dozens of exercises each year that provide Warfighters with hands-on knowledge and benefits from NRO Overhead Systems data. Additionally, the Education and Training Team of SWS provides classroom and computer-based distance learning instruction to thousands of students and supports numerous mobile training events around the globe. Finally, SWS also provides hands-on training for critical NRO Warfighter tools and NRO Overhead Systems database access for tools. 


The Agency Support Team (AST) includes military officers serving as NRO Senior Field Representatives at the CCMDs, services, and intelligence facilities around the world. These include AFRICOM, CENTCOM, EUCOM, NORTHCOM, INDOPACOM, SOCOM, SOUTHCOM, JSOC, and STRATCOM.

Proposal Selection Process

As a selective R&D program, TacDSR annually solicits proposals from the acquisition and intelligence communities, industry, academia, government labs, and FFRDC. Each proposal must provide a capability to: 1) integrate mission critical NRO Overhead Systems data products into military platforms, combat systems, weapons and architectures OR 2) enhance the utility of NRO Overhead Systems data products for the Warfighter. These capabilities must directly address a documented Warfighter requirement such as a CCMD Integrated Priority List (IPL), a Joint Urgent Operational Need (JUON), or a Capability. The proposal must clearly state the value of this new capability to the Warfighter (not the value to the analyst or to a system), and show, to the maximum extent possible, how the proposed solution will transition to any one or more of the following; an appropriate testing and validation authority, an operational environment, an operational baseline system, a commercial application, or an appropriate program of record. Proposals are evaluated and selected for funding in accordance with programmatic best practices as described below. Please contact the POCs listed below to discuss concepts you are considering proposing and to learn more about submitting proposals.

MERIT Proposal Selection

The annual MERIT selection process begins in October/November of each year when MID releases a MERIT Solicitation Message seeking proposals. Submitted proposals are reviewed administratively for completeness and compliance, then made available for the MSC members to review. The MSC members will evaluate the proposals and may select one or more for sponsorship by their organization. Proposals must be sponsored by a MSC member organization in order to be considered for selection. All sponsored proposals are evaluated and prioritized by the MSC; part of the evaluation is based on an oral presentation at the annual MERIT Proposal Forum. The MSC then provides the final prioritized list to the Office Director for final selection based on available funds.

TacDSR CSI Broad Agency Announcement (BAA)/ Government Sources Sought Announcement (GSSA)

The TacDSR CSI Program utilizes a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA)/Government Sources Sought Announcement (GSSA) process for soliciting, evaluating, and selecting proposals. This annual BAA/GSSA process is a formal source selection activity administered through the NRO's Acquisition Center of Excellence (ACE). To ensure widest dissemination, the BAA/GSSA solicitations are posted to the Intelligence Community Acquisition Research Center (ARC) website in September of each year. Offerors submit proposals electronically via the same ARCwebsite. Educational institutions, non-profit, and not-for-profit organizations and private industry respond to the BAA while U.S. Government agencies and FFRDCs respond to the GSSA. BAA proposals that are selected for award will be implemented via standard contracting procedures.

Over 36 Years of TacDSR Warfighter Support

In 1980, Congress directed the establishment of a Defense Reconnaissance Support Program (DRSP) to "improve the application of satellite reconnaissance support to operational military forces and create a mechanism through which tactical support enhancements to NFIP [National Foreign Intelligence Program] programs could be identified, validated and funded." DRSP resources and management mechanisms were tasked to:

  • Modify or augment intelligence satellite systems with the prior approval of the DCI for the primary purpose of supporting military operations;
  • Acquire and operate satellite reconnaissance systems to fulfill validated requirements to support military forces; and
  • Design systems for dissemination of satellite reconnaissance imagery products to the Unifed and Specified Commands and appropriate Joint Allied Commands, and assure compatibility with Service tactical architectures.

In the late 1990s, the program was redesignated the Defense Space Reconnaissance Program (DSRP), under the Military Intelligence Program (MIP), with TacDSR being an important component. In 2002, the DSRP was issued a new charter, signed by Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense. According to that charter, every TacDSR project must satisfy, address, or align directly to one or more validated user requirements as documented in one or more of the following:

  • Combatant Command Integrated Priority List (IPL)
  • Approved Operational Requirements Document (ORD), Initial Capabilities Document (ICD), Capabilities Development Document (CDD) or Capability Production Document (CPD)
  • Combatant Command Capability Gaps, defined by the Joint Staff
  • Other shortfalls identified by the Services and SOCOM that are preventing users from accessing and exploiting NRO Overhead Systems data

For over 36 years, TacDSR has fulfilled its Congressional mandate to “expeditiously develop, mature, and integrate technologies that facilitate the dissemination of National Systems Data (NSD) to the Warfighter in the field.” TacDSR accomplishes this mission through short-term, high-impact advanced R&D efforts that integrate mission critical NSD into military platforms, combat systems, weapons and architectures, thereby bringing crucial NRO capabilities to operational Warfighters at the lowest possible echelon. In that time, the TacDSR program has achieved a remarkable transition success rate. Over 75% of all TacDSR projects have successfully transitioned to operations.

TacDSR Points of Contact

Program Manager


Deputy Program Manager


Outreach POC



TacDSR Brochure