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History of NITFS

Version 1.1, an improved format, was developed, validated, and proposed as the implementation baseline. The NITF Configuration Control Board (NCCB), chaired by a representative from the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence, OASD(C3I) approved Version 1.1 for general implementation in 01 March 1989. A certification test facility was established in 1990 under INCA sponsorship. In 1991, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) assumed INCA’s responsibilities, and the certification test facility was moved to the Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC), Ft. Huachuca, AZ. By March 1992, over thirty different system configurations had been certified as compliant with NITF Version 1.1, some with waivers.
NITFS and NITF 2.0 (MIL-STD-2500A):
Development of an improved version of NITF began in 1988. Initially, the new version was called NITF 2.0. The key improvement over the earlier version of NITF 1.1 was the inclusion of a communications support capability, to enable NITF to be transmitted over tactical circuits. The primary communications support capability was the Tactical Communications 2 (TACO2) protocol. Additionally, improved image compression, forward error correction, and enhanced graphics algorithms began development. In 1991, NITF began conversion to a DOD standard. To mark this, the name was changed to the National Imagery Transmission Format Standard (NITFS). NITFS now encompasses not only the NITF 2.0 file format, but also includes supporting standards for image compression MIL-STD-188-198A, Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG) Image Compression, MIL-STD-188-196, Bi-Level Image Compression, MIL-STD-188-199, Vector Quantization Decompression, transmission protocols MIL-STD-2045-44500, TACO2, and Graphics MIL-STD-2301, Computer Graphics Metafile (CGM). There are supporting format and data representation standards as well as the embraced protocol standards and Technical Interface Specifications (TIS), the latter providing detailed implementation guidance. In 1992, the Image Handling Standards and Guidelines document for Commercial Analyst Workstation (CAWS) adopted the NITF 2.0 file format (only) as the format for full frame National imagery to be distributed from IDEX II, System III, and Low-Cost Media. Also in 1992, development responsibility moved to the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NGA), formerly the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) and was incorporated into the Defense Standardization Program under the auspices of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA).
NITFS and NITF 2.1 (MIL-STD-2500B):
The imagery community transition from NITF 2.0 (MIL-STD 2500A) to NITF 2.1 (MIL-STD 2500B), dated 12 October 1994 which provided increased capability and flexibility. NITF 2.1 will include JPEG 2000 compression with the inclusion of the BIIF Profile for JPEG 2000 (BPJ2K01.00), enhanced CGM graphics with the inclusion of BIIF Profile for CGM (BPCGM01.00), changes to address the Y2K issue, and implementation of USMTF structured text.
As implementations transition from NITF 2.0 to NITF 2.1, backward compatibility was maintained with NITF 2.0. This allowed for continued interoperability with legacy 2.0 systems that did not transition to NITF 2.1, thus allowing for access to the vast number of archived NITF 2.0 formatted files.  As well, to support interoperability all NITF 2.1 compliant systems are required to have a mode of operation that allows for proper interpretation and use of NITF Version 1.1 formatted files but are prohibited from creating of NITF version 1.1.
During the life of MIL-STD-2500B it included Change Notice (CN)1 (2 October 1998) and CN2 (01 March 2001) which were based on approved Request for Change (RFC)s to the earlier versions.
NITFS and NITF 2.1 (MIL-STD-2500C):
MIL-STD-2500C established additional requirements for the NITF Format Version 2.1, dated 01 May 2006 and the next update to NITF 2.1, this version has been developed to keep the imagery format consistent with the ISO Basic Imagery Interchange Format (BIIF) and the NATO Secondary Imagery Format (NSIF).  To create 2500C, the editor started with 2500B Change Notice 2, applied all the approved/pending RFCs, and making administrative changes and corrections.
NITFS and NITF 2.1 (Joint BIIF Profile):
The Joint BIIF Profile (JBP) Version 2021.2 not only established additional requirements for the NITF 2.1 it was develop along with current previsions of NSIF 1.01 as the next update to
NITF 2.1.
The JBP Profile is within the context of the BIIF Profile class of items in accordance with the principles and procedures specified in International Organization for Standardization (ISO)/IEC 9973, “Computer graphics, image processing and environmental data representation — Procedures for registration of items”, and Annex C of ISO/IEC 12087-5:1998, “Profiling BIIF”.
The JBP Profile of BIIF, cooperatively developed between the ISO, National Imagery Transmission Format Standards (NITFS) Technical Board (NTB) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) communities, promotes interoperability in the formatting and exchanging of digital imagery files and imagery-related products amongst the Department of Defense (DOD), Intelligence Community (IC), other United States (US) Government departments, and other agencies and NATO Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (C3I) systems.
The Joint BIIF profile specifies requirements and is the basis of an imagery interoperability program in conjunction with ISO/IEC 12087-5:1998 and is a replacement of the BIIF Profile – NATO Secondary Imagery Format Version 01.01 (NSIF01.01) and MIL-STD-2500C Change Notice 2 (NITF02.10). Report inconsistencies found between this document and ISO/IEC 12087-5:1998 to the Chair of the NTB by submitting a defect report to ISO, as appropriate to correct the inconsistency. To create the JBP, the editor started with 2500C CN2 and NSIF Editor 2, applied all the approved/pending RFCs, and making administrative changes and corrections.
The JBP format contains a file header and segment types of images, graphic, and text defined as standard data type segments, while the DES is extension data segment. A segment contains a subheader, and data, and the subheader and data are different for each segment type. The JBP file header and subheader fields are byte aligned. A file header carries information about the identification, classification, structure, content, size of the file and the number and size of the major segments within the file. For each type of data segment supported by the format, there is an associated subheader and data fields. A subheader contains information that describes characteristics of data fields that contain the actual data.
Certification Test and Evaluation (CTE) Program:
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence (ASD(C3I)) mandated compliance with the NITFS for all DOD imagery dissemination systems. In 1989, on behalf of the Intelligence Community, COMIREX established the NITFS as the standard for imagery transmission. The National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NGA) oversees the NITFS Certification Test and Evaluation (CTE) Program that determines compliance with the NITFS.
The Defense Information System Agency’s (DISA) Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC), located at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, serves as NGA’s Executive Agent for execution of NITFS test-related activities. The JITC has established a NITFS CTE Facility that supports certification testing of NITFS capable systems, validation testing of proposed additions to NITFS, and other test activities related to NITFS. A register of NITFS certified systems is also maintained at the CTE Facility. Detailed information concerning the NITFS Certification Test and Evaluation Program, including the established certification test criteria, is contained in the JITC publishes the NITFS Certification Test Plan describing processes, criteria, and methods used in testing.
Executive Test Agent of NITFS:
JITC serves as NGA?s Executive Agent for conducting test and test-related activities in support of the NTB Program. As a fee-based test agent, JITC supports agreements with the United States Government (USG), international partners, and commercial vendors. JITC also serves as the Signatory for NITFS Conformance Certification.
The DoD, IC, and other NSG members/partners have different acquisition and development process and milestone models. Some developments use various forms of the agile development methodology. With early coordination, the Executive Agent can adapt test processes to support those development processes (e.g. Agile, DevSecOps, DoD Rapid Acquisition Model).
Contact the GEOINT Test, Evaluation, and Certification (TEC) Facility at Fort Huachuca, Arizona (520) 538-5458 or email for additional information.