9 septembre 2019 | International, Aérospatial

Jumping into algorithmic warfare: US Army aviation tightens kill chain with networked architecture

By: Jen Judson

NAVAL AIR WEAPONS STATION CHINA LAKE, Calif. — In the skies above China Lake, California, from the back of an MH-47 Chinook cargo helicopter, an operator with a tablet takes control of a Gray Eagle drone and tasks it with firing a small, precision-glide munition at an enemy target located on the ground. But at the last second, a higher level threat is detected and the munition is rapidly redirected toward a different threat, eliminating it within seconds.

This was made possible through the architecture, automation, autonomy and interfaces capability, or A3I, built by the Army's Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team under Army Futures Command.

The demonstration showed the ability to nimbly pass control between operators of unmanned systems and munitions through a networked architecture of systems also receiving and filtering real-time, pertinent information to aid in operational decision-making.

“It was our first jump into algorithmic warfare,” Brig. Gen. Wally Rugen, who is in charge of the Army's FVL modernization effort, told Defense News following the demonstration. “We definitely didn't jump into the deep end of the pool, but we jumped in and, again, we are into pursuing that as far as we can take it to help soldiers be lethal.”

The Aug. 26 demonstration sought to tighten the kill chain and allow for more advanced teaming between air assets and troops on the ground using a resilient network.

“When you talk about our kill chain, we are trying to take seconds out of our kill chain,” Rugen said. “We feel like we understand the reverse kill chain — the enemy coming to get us. Our kill chain is going to get them, and we want our decision-making to be as precise and as expeditious as possible,” using automation and autonomy, he added.

AI3 was developed over the course of nine months and culminated in the demonstration at China Lake.

"Going from a concept, and in a matter of months putting it into an experiment: That was probably the most impressive thing, particularly if you look back at the history of how we do these,” James McPherson, the official performing the duties of the undersecretary of the Army, told Defense News. McPherson attended the demonstration to emphasize the importance to senior Army leadership of modernization efforts within the service.

The FVL effort in particular includes ensuring manned, unmanned, munition and other air-launched effects are all seamlessly networked together to fight in advanced formations in a congested environment, such as an urban area, and that they are prepared to fight across multiple domains.

Using an interface called Arbitrator, the service networked together a variety of targeting identification and rapid automated processing, exploitation and distribution, or PED, capabilities as well as real-time weather information and several other features and capabilities to help operators of unmanned systems penetrate, in the case of the demonstration, an urban environment.

AI3 in action

During the demo, one of the systems integrated into the network tied to a ground sensor detected a possible threat on the ground. Seeing the threat detected in the system, a helicopter pilot then gained control of an extended-range Gray Eagle and tasked it to perform reconnaissance of the possible target. Using the UAS, the pilot identified the threat as an enemy surface-to-air missile system.

The pilot then ordered the UAS to fire a Dynetics GBU-69 small glide munition to defeat the target, marking the first time the munition had been fired from a Gray Eagle.

But as the munition closed in on the target, the system picks up on another threat deemed more important for elimination. The information for this decision came from the integrated PED systems that use machine-learning algorithms to accurately identify items of interest.

Another operator then redirected the munition during its final seconds of flight to hit the new, more pressing threat.

Why does the Army need A31 capability?

To build the system, the government took the lead integration role, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Cory Anderson, the UAS branch chief for Army Special Operations Aviation Command, said at the demonstration. This ensured the service's ability to get the right levels of interoperability between subsystems.

But almost all of the capabilities tied into the government's black box came from small businesses and academia. Much of the initial development has come from the special operations side of the house.

The demonstration was viewed from a tactical operations center, with screens lining the walls of a large air-conditioned trailer, but the system has a scalable control interface and can be remotely accessed from a cockpit or even a tablet used by a soldier on the ground. This breaks the Army free from having to use a ground control station, Anderson said, meaning the footprint and logistics tail can be drastically reduced.

To put together the tactical operations center and ground control station, it took roughly seven C-17 planes to move heavy equipment into China Lake. “We can't sustain that,” Anderson said. “We believe we can get it down to a two C-17 load-out just by minimizing the generational requirements alone.”

By integrating PED systems that use machine learning into A3I, the Army no longer requires a large number of people — roughly 30 at a time — to conduct PED from full-motion video.

The Arbitrator system allows for operators to pass control of various systems back and forth at different levels of control, from just receiving information from a sensor or UAS to controlling a payload to the entire system. The system is also under development to improve its automation levels.

The utility of passing control to a relevant operator not tied to a ground station means taking out the middle man that doesn't have the same advantageous access to the tactical edge another possible operator might have.

Rugen said that if there's an operator on the ground close to the action, it's much easier to take control of systems rather than try to direct someone far away to the right location to get eyes on a possible point of interest or target in order to make an actionable decision. “What if the squad leader could just grab the sensor because we have the hierarchy?” Rugen noted.

While the capability was developed and demonstrated by the FVL Cross-Functional Team, the system has applications for almost everything on the battlefield, from applications to long-range precision fires targeting capabilities to next-generation combat vehicle teaming to soldier systems.

Both directors for the Long-Range Precision Fires and the Network cross-functional teams were present at the demonstration. While the unclassified version of the demo didn't show capability, the classified version addresses the architecture's capability to protect itself against threat-representative electronic attack. “We want to make sure we have a resilient network,” Rugen said.

The next step is to move the Arbitrator system onto an airborne platform, which would completely eliminate the ground control station. That will be demonstrated in roughly a year.


Sur le même sujet

  • Top Air Force general defends Advanced Battle Management System from critical report

    24 avril 2020 | International, C4ISR

    Top Air Force general defends Advanced Battle Management System from critical report

    Valerie Insinna A report by a government watchdog that slammed the Air Force's major command-and-control program did not include key classified information and was outdated by the time it was released last week, the service's top general said Wednesday. On Friday, the Government Accountability Office delivered a scathing report on the Air Force's Advanced Battle Management System, which seeks to overhaul the U.S. military's command-and-control infrastructure so that any platform will instantly and seamlessly be able to share data with another weapon system on the battlefield. The problem, according to the GAO, is that the Air Force has not provided enough detail on exactly what technology it needs, how it plans to field it and how much it will cost. But speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein said the agency did not have access to key information that may have fleshed out the service's plans. “There is a bit of latency to the reporting,” Goldfein said. “Two things I would offer is that they were not able to get to our December ABMS demo. So they didn't actually ... see in real time what we were connecting.” The other problem, Goldfein said, is that the organization was not cleared to receive information about the classified portions of the program. “That makes it challenging because if the technology you're moving forward, if a lot of it is in the classified realm — if a lot of it, quite frankly, was in the space realm — and the GAO doesn't have access or clearance to be able to look at it, then the report is going to be on a very small portion of what the Advanced Battle Management System really is,” he said. In an email to Defense News, GAO director Marie Mak disputed Goldfein's characterization of the report, saying that the organization has a full understanding of past and present ABMS efforts, including the December exercise and numerous classified discussions. “Those discussions did not change our finding that the Air Force still does not have an overall plan for ABMS, a point which they openly acknowledged and in fact concurred with our recommendations,” she said. “The Air Force still needs to develop an overall plan, to include preliminary costs and schedule. Without some type of overall plan in place, it will be difficult for the Air Force to prioritize this program among the acquisition efforts within the Air Force.” When Goldfein became the Air Force's chief of staff in 2016, he made connecting the joint force one of his major priorities. Since then, the service has canceled efforts to replace legacy aircraft that play a role in battlefield management, such as a recapitalization of the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System aircraft. Instead, it has put its financial resources toward ABMS, which it envisions as a family of systems that will be more survivable than a direct replacement for JSTARS aircraft or other assets. The service tapped Preston Dunlap to manage the ABMS effort in 2019. It then conducted its first set of technology demonstrations in December, where it tested 28 different technologies, with 26 of them proving to be successful. However, some lawmakers have remained skeptical about the Air Force's approach and lack of transparency. In March, Republican Sen. David Perdue called for the Air Force to deliver an analysis of alternatives and capability development document — two pieces of documentation typical to defense acquisition programs. “The development of ABMS is encouraging, but we need to make sure Congress has proper oversight throughout the process,” said Perdue, whose home state of Georgia is the location of Robins Air Force Base, where ABMS is slated to be based. Goldfein did not directly address one of the GAO's major complaints: that the program is at greater risk for schedule delays and cost growth because it does not have a firm business case that spells out capability requirements and cost. But he acknowledged that the Air Force has to do more to share information with Congress and the GAO in a timely matter. However, the pace of the ABMS program may also require lawmakers and the GAO to put in more time to keep updated on the effort's progress, he said. “The GAO has got to keep up ... and we've got to help,” Goldfein said. “This is not a poke or criticism. We've got to help them. We've got to help Congress. We've got to help think tanks. We've got to help others realize that we are moving out and we are developing capability faster than we've ever developed capability before. We're connecting things faster than we've ever connected them before.” “Every four months we are connecting new capabilities that have never been connected. That's a hard one to deliver a report on, but I'm eager to sit down with the GAO and get them up to speed.” Updated on 4/23/19 at 11:45 a.m. with comment from the GAO. https://www.c4isrnet.com/battlefield-tech/c2-comms/2020/04/23/top-air-force-general-blasts-critical-advanced-battle-management-system-report/

  • State Department approves potential frigate sale to Greece, despite agreement with France

    13 décembre 2021 | International, Aérospatial, Naval

    State Department approves potential frigate sale to Greece, despite agreement with France

    Though France in September announced an agreement to sell Greece three frigates, Greece asked the U.S. to continue finalizing its proposal for four new frigates, modernizing existing Hellenic Navy ships and providing an interim solution for Greek sailors to use during that modernization effort.

  • Bell Pushes V-280 Gunship, Shipboard Variants: Recon In Works

    6 août 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    Bell Pushes V-280 Gunship, Shipboard Variants: Recon In Works

    One variant, in Army colors, has missile racks sticking out of what was originally the passenger cabin — a conversion that units could potentially install or remove as needed in the field. The other, with Marine Corps markings, is a sleeker thoroughbred gunship with internal weapons bays, stealth features, and folding wings to fit in shipboard hangars. By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR. ARLINGTON: How new is Bell Helicopter's shiny showroom — excuse me, Advanced Vertical Lift Center — minutes from the Pentagon and the Capitol? Between the time I arrived this morning and the time I headed out, they installed two huge mockups of their high-speed V-280 Valor tilrotor. But these aren't land-based troop transports like the prototype Bell's already flying for the Joint Multi-Role (JMR) demonstration program. They're heavily armed gunships. One, in Army colors, has missile racks sticking out of what was originally the passenger cabin — a conversion that units could potentially install or remove as needed in the field. The other, with Marine Corps markings, is a sleeker thoroughbred gunship with internal weapons bays, stealth features, and folding wings to fit in shipboard hangars. Bell showed off these mockups before, but there's almost no imagery available online, so when executives said I was free to take photos, I had my phone out at once. Equally interesting was what they said about another design they've still got under wraps: Bell's contender for the Army Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft(FARA), a scout light, small, and agile enough to avoid detection by flying down city streets. https://breakingdefense.com/2018/08/bell-pushes-v-280-gunship-shipboard-variants-recon-in-works/

Toutes les nouvelles