DTED -- Military Elevation Data

Driver short name


Driver built-in by default

This driver is built-in by default

GDAL supports DTED Levels 0, 1, and 2 elevation data for read access. Elevation data is returned as 16 bit signed integer. Appropriate projection and georeferencing information is also returned. A variety of header fields are returned dataset level metadata.

Driver capabilities

Supports CreateCopy()

This driver supports the GDALDriver::CreateCopy() operation

Supports Georeferencing

This driver supports georeferencing

Supports VirtualIO

This driver supports virtual I/O operations (/vsimem/, etc.)

Configuration options

Configuration options can be specified in command-line tools using the syntax --config <NAME>=<VALUE> or using functions such as CPLSetConfigOption() (C) or gdal.config_options (Python). This paragraph lists the configuration options that can be set to alter the default behavior of the DTED driver.

  • GDAL_DTED_SINGLE_BLOCK=[TRUE/FALSE]: Defaults to FALSE. Determines whether to read the entire file as a single block. See Read speed.

  • REPORT_COMPD_CS=[TRUE/FALSE]: Defaults to FALSE. Can be set to TRUE to avoid stripping the vertical CS of compound CS when reading the SRS of a file.

  • DTED_VERIFY_CHECKSUM=[YES/NO]: Defaults to NO. Determine whether to issue an error/warning if the checksum written do the DTED file does not match its contents. See Checksum Issues.

  • DTED_APPLY_PIXEL_IS_POINT=[TRUE/FALSE]: (GDAL >= 3.1) Defaults to FALSE. If TRUE, apply a pixel-is-point interpretation to the data when reading the geotransform.

Read Issues

Read speed

Elevation data in DTED files are organized per columns. This data organization doesn't fit very well with some scanline oriented algorithms and can cause slowdowns, especially for DTED Level 2 datasets. By defining GDAL_DTED_SINGLE_BLOCK=TRUE, a whole DTED dataset will be considered as a single block. The first access to the file will be slow, but further accesses will be much quicker. Only use that option if you need to do processing on a whole file.

Georeferencing Issues

The DTED specification (MIL-PRF-89020B) states that horizontal datum shall be the World Geodetic System (WGS 84). The vertical datum is defined as EGM96, or EPSG:5773. However, there are still people using old data files georeferenced in WGS 72. A header field indicates the horizontal datum code, so we can detect and handle this situation.
  • If the horizontal datum specified in the DTED file is WGS84, the DTED driver will report WGS 84 as SRS.

  • If the horizontal datum specified in the DTED file is WGS72, the DTED driver will report WGS 72 as SRS and issue a warning.

  • If the horizontal datum specified in the DTED file is neither WGS84 nor WGS72, the DTED driver will report WGS 84 as SRS and issue a warning.

Checksum Issues

The default behavior of the DTED driver is to ignore the checksum while reading data from the files. However, you may specify the environment variable DTED_VERIFY_CHECKSUM=YES if you want the checksums to be verified. In some cases, the checksum written in the DTED file is wrong (the data producer did a wrong job). This will be reported as a warning. If the checksum written in the DTED file and the checksum computed from the data do not match, an error will be issued.

Creation Issues

The DTED driver does support creating new files, but the input data must be exactly formatted as a Level 0, 1 or 2 cell. That is the size, and bounds must be appropriate for a cell.

See Also