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Information superiority helps win wars, save lives

  • Published
  • By Dennis J. Cassette
  • Director, Aeronautical Systems Center Engineering Directorate
It is often said that two heads are better than one or that achieving a goal is better done through the efforts of many, rather than by an individual.

Network centric warfare builds on these common phrases -- it's all about sharing information in order to achieve better results. In short, it's a type of synergy.

Information superiority has proven to be a key component of mission success in the battle space. Traditionally, our forces have relied on direct communications to exchange battle space situational awareness, target information and mission tasking.

The demand for a higher quality and quantity of information to support the warfighter has been growing; the idea is to achieve many mission objectives while enhancing mission survivability. Data link networks have been evolving over the past two decades to meet this demand by adding more information handling capacity and security features.

Unfortunately, the demand has been quickly out-growing the available capacity of the networks, and the variety of mission information requirements has also caused the evolution of numerous data networks that do not work well with each other. The concept of operations for many weapon systems today require that information is shared between these many diverse networks in order to meet mission timelines.

In the past, our aircraft platforms have implemented communication systems to meet their own communication objectives, and have not had the requirements or funding to implement advanced systems to provide information across the strike package. Additionally, there have been numerous networking technologies developed over the past few years that have potential to enhance information sharing. Most have not yet proven through mission analyses that they can provide an increased benefit to the warfighter at a reasonable cost.

To enable network centric warfare operations, information flow between multiple types of weapon systems is critical. Having an infrastructure of common methods of communication, and common computational and processing approaches and equipment, is a good start but is not sufficient to provide a mission capable solution that is needed by the warfighter.

Understanding what information is needed, when it is required, and how it will be used in solving an operational problem is essential to provide the warfighter with the capabilities envisioned in the Joint Chiefs of Staff 2020 Vision.

To make this possible, Aeronautical Systems Center's Engineering Directorate is applying a structured engineering process to analyze various evolving networking technologies in their contribution to overall mission success, rather than on the basis of individual platform performance. ASC Engineering is evolving its modeling and simulation tools to analyze the complexities of information sharing within a networked strike package and its contribution to mission success. In other words, a given solution must earn its way onto a weapon system based on best value and benefit to warfighter missions, not because it is the latest technological innovation. ASC Engineering modeling and simulation tools will be instrumental in evaluating these new networked capabilities before materiel solutions are fielded.

Key capabilities provided by the network in this scenario include:

  • identification of enemy forces by ground/air assets
  • tracking and targeting by friendly forces using a mix of strike and ISR assets
  • battle management of ISR, C2, and strike assets
  • engagement with Navy, Air Force, Army and coalition assets
  • engagement against mobile ground targets using post-launch control of non-sensor equipped air to ground weapons.
There are many scenarios; each one will require evaluation of the network's contribution to mission success including technologies that comprise the network. The evaluation results will support recommendations to the warfighter for future development and deployment of systems needed to support network centric warfare operations.

Fielding these complex networked systems to meet warfighter's performance expectations will be a significant challenge. ASC Engineering is in the forefront of developing and maintaining state-of-the art system engineering processes and tools for acquisition wings, groups and squadrons to provide warfighters this appropriate level of network centric warfighting capability.