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To date, the automatic or semiautomatic transformation of huge amounts of multisource multiresolution spaceborne imagery into information still remains far below reasonable expectations. The original contribution of this paper to existing knowledge on the development of operational automatic remote sensing image understanding systems (RS-IUSs) is fourfold. First, existing RS-IUS architectures are critically revised. In this review section, the two-stage stratified hierarchical RS-IUS model, originally proposed by Shackelford and Davis, is identified as a subclass of the parent class of multiagent hybrid systems for RS image understanding, which is potentially superior to the two-stage segment-based RS-IUS architecture that is currently considered the state-of-the-art in commercial RS image-processing software toolboxes. Second, this paper highlights the degree of novelty of an operational automatic near-real-time well-posed model-driven application-independent per-pixel Landsat-like spectral-rule-based decision-tree classifier (LSRC) recently presented in RS literature. Third, five original downscaled implementations of the LSRC system are proposed to be input with a multispectral image whose spectral resolution overlaps with, but is inferior to, Landsat's. These five downscaled LSRC implementations are identified as the Satellite Pour l'Observation de la Terre-like SRC, the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer-like SRC, the Advanced Along-Track Scanning Radiometer-like SRC, the IKONOS-like SRC, and the Disaster Monitoring Constellation-like SRC, respectively. LSRC, together with its five downscaled implementations, called the integrated SRC system of systems, is eligible for use as the automatic pixel-based preliminary classification first stage of a two-stage stratified hierarchical RS-IUS instantiation. Fourth, to sustain the feasibility of the new downscaled LSRC implementations, a novel vegetation spectral index is introduced and discussed. In Part II of- this paper, experimental results are presented and discussed for the entire SRC family of classifiers.