Planning and preparation of military
operations in urban terrain can benefit from modern 3D modeling tools.
These tools assist planners in evaluating various options, assessing
advantages and risks, and producing tactical decision aids that
improve situational awareness for the warfighters and commanders.
Modeling of urban terrain begins with mapping of the entire area. This
process can use existing photogrammetric material from satellite
images or aerial photos, or up-to-date information gathered during
reconnaissance missions by aircraft or UAVs. Special high-resolution
cameras and laser 3D terrain mapping payloads are used to collect the
necessary images. During these airborne surveys, relative heights and
details of features, such as windows and doors of buildings and other
structures, are accurately depicted in order to enable accurate
reconstruction of the buildings and surrounding terrain features in 3D
perspectives. Building plans can also be used to provide interior and
structural details when available.
The most common method of 3D viewing uses stereoscopic image pairs,
which provide an illusion of depth to allow structure height
assessment. A much more realistic model can be created by computer
generated 3D imaging, which can be used with "immersive virtual
reality" to provide realistic views of objects from every angle.
While providing a realistic view of an area, 3D terrain models also
facilitate other important functions of area analysis: automatic
plotting of safe access routes, determination of visibility coverage
for potential positions, options for locations of vantage points for
observation or snipers, as well as allowing assessment of threats from
possible enemy positions. These 3D models enable mission simulation
rehearsals, detailed mission planning, effective situational
assessment during the operation and detailed post mission debriefing.