Measurement and Signature Intelligence (MASINT) refers to the information collected by sensors developed to record different characteristics of a target.
This type of intelligence is important in detecting, tracking and identifying targets to determine where they’ve come from, and more importantly, where they’re going.
MASINT works by using sensors to identify the distinctive characteristic of either a fixed or moving target.
So, how does MASINT work?
MASINT is all about collecting the emissions, by-products of devices. It’s the collection (and analysis) of signatures which is used for intelligence collection.
Basically, all devises generate unique ‘signature’, whether it’s electronic, geospatial, or magnetic for example – which is then analysed to identify it’s unique signature.
This intelligence discipline incorporates different collection methods, but is intended to provide intelligence about enemy weapons, and equipment. For example, MASINT is used to detect and track missiles, or enemy submarines in the ocean.
Here’s an example: Lets say we’ve identified a radio frequency being used to transmit encrypted communications – while it might not be possible to decipher the communication, MASINT allows us to collect information related to the transmission rather than the content itself.
This is used in a military context for identifying and locating different types of enemy equipment, points of origin or pattern of life.
Modern Artillery Batteries are often equipped with ‘counter-battery radar’ which uses MASINT to identify an enemy’s artillery position. This radar locates an enemies position based on the signature of the projectile, thus allowing return fire against that position.