Home / Geopolitics / Countries developing Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) to transform Naval Anti-air Warfare with enhanced throughput, scalability and Interoperability

Countries developing Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) to transform Naval Anti-air Warfare with enhanced throughput, scalability and Interoperability

Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) is a sensor network with integrated fire control capability that is intended to significantly improve battle force air and missile defense capabilities by combining data from multiple battle force air search sensors on CEC-equipped units into a single, real-time, composite track picture (network-centric warfare). This will greatly enhance fleet air defense by making jamming more difficult and allocating defensive missiles on a battle group basis.


CEC is intended to (1) net the sensors of a force together in a manner that maximizes their effectiveness at maintaining a continuous track on all aircraft and missiles in the area of interest and, when necessary, (2) enable one unit to provide fire control quality information to another unit when the shooter is unable to track the threat with local sensors.


Against the most stressing threat aircraft and anti-ship missiles, CEC expands the battlespace sig­nificantly. By providing a continuous track on these air threats from their initial detection, CEC gives the com­manding officer minutes instead of seconds to identify and engage the threat.


US Navy’s Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) is a real-time sensor netting system that enables high quality situational awareness and integrated fire control capability. CEC is designed to enhance the anti-air warfare (AAW) capability of U.S. Navy ships and U.S. Navy aircraft by the netting of geographically dispersed sensors to provide a single integrated air picture, thus enabling Integrated Fire Control to destroy increasingly capable threat cruise missiles and aircraft.


Cooperative engagement also applies to ship-based protective features where Aegis radars of guided missile cruisers and destroyers are linked together into a single network to share data as a whole. This allows targets detected by one ship, as well as those seen by aircraft, to be identified by another ship and fired upon with long-range missiles like the Standard Missile 6 (SM-6) without that vessel having to actually detect it themselves. Not needing to fire on targets only once a ship’s own sensors see them allows for shorter time needed to shoot, increased standoff distance to begin firing, and enables a whole fleet to intercept threats, like high-speed cruise missiles, once only a single ship sees them.


The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and U.S. Navy for the first time have jointly conducted a test of the so-called cooperative engagement capability (CEC) real-time sensor netting system off the coast of Hawaii, Australian Defense Minister Christopher Pyne announced in a November 2018 statement.


“Connecting and sharing data with the US Navy like this is an important step in increasing our interoperability with them, especially during linked task group operations at sea,” the commanding officer of the Hobart, Captain John Stavridis, said. “Sharing information like this between ships at sea means that ships in a task group can know and respond to what is going on, including sharing tracking and targeting data.”


On 15 May 2019, the Indian Navy became the second service in the world after the United States, & the first in Asia, to have developed the capability, by conducting the maiden cooperative engagement firing of the Barak 8.  The IN said the co-operative engagement firing capability it has demonstrated will give it an operational flexibility similar to that fielded by the US and French navies.


The  Japanese Ministry of Defense has decided to develop its own “cooperative engagement capability” (CEC) system that would enable Self-Defense Force (SDF) units to share enemy information in real time such as locations and carry out joint counterattacks against enemy weapons such as cruise missiles, according to ministry officials.


The ministry included 6.9 billion yen in its budget request for fiscal 2019 to conduct research aimed at developing high-speed, high-capacity communications devices necessary for a CEC system. The ministry wants to complete a prototype system by fiscal 2022, and begin operational tests aboard Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) destroyers in fiscal 2023. Eventually, the ministry intends to upgrade SDF aircraft with the Japanese CEC equipment and operate them along with new destroyers using an American equivalent system.


India’s Navy Successfully Tests Cooperative Engagement Capability During Missile Test

Indian Navy for the first time in its history conducted a live firing test of a surface-to-air missile using the so-called cooperative engagement capability (CEC) sensor netting system, which allows the real-time sharing of sensor data on incoming air targets among warships.


The test involved the 7,500-ton Kolkata-class (Project 15A) guided-missile destroyers INS Kochi and INS Chennai with each firing a medium-range surface-to-air missile (MRSAM), also referred to as the Barak 8 long-range surface-to-air missile (LRSAM), the Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) said in a May 2019 statement.


“The firing was undertaken on the western seaboard [of India] by Indian naval ships Kochi and Chennai wherein the missiles of both ships were controlled by one ship to intercept different aerial targets at extended ranges,” the MoD statement reads. Put otherwise, CEC allows a warship to detect and, if needed, engage a threat identified by another ship or aircraft.


Warships typically switch on their multi-function surveillance and target acquisition radar (MF-STAR) while firing an MR-SAM – usually when an incoming anti-ship missile is still over a hundred kilometres away. The radar guides the missile towards the target, bringing it close enough to allow the missile’s seeker to home onto the anti-ship missile, and strike it precisely while it is still 70 kilometres away. Simultaneous firing by both ships would generate heavy electronic signatures from multiple radars make the flotilla easily detectable, allowing the enemy to target it with anti-radiation missiles (ARMs).


This vulnerability was reduced through the “cooperative engagement firing.” . Two navy destroyers INS Kochi and Chennai fired MR-SAMs simultaneously at two simulated incoming missiles. But then, INS Chennai kept its radar switched off, while INS Kochi directed both missiles to the target through electronic data links.  This allows large naval formations – such as an aircraft carrier battle group (CBG), which typically includes a carrier, along with several large warships like destroyers or frigates – to operate with a greatly reduced “electromagnetic signature”.


The Indian Navy has become a part of a select group of navies that have this niche capability,” stated the defence ministry. The new engagement capability derives from the network-centric architecture of the Barak 8 system and its MF-STAR 360º radar system that harness multiple sensors, launch platforms, and effectors into a single air defense system.


By fitting a data-link to each interceptor, missiles can be updated via data-link after launch by any network member. With this capability, Barak-8 missiles can receive target updates on their mid-course, with updated target information, retasking the highest priority target, until the missile enters the terminal engagement. This capability maximizes missile utilization and battle economy. It enables a single ship to orchestrate the air defense mission or allocate missions to other vessels when required.


The test was overseen by Israeli defense firm Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), and India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO). “With the successful proving of this cooperative mode of engagement, the Indian Navy has become a part of a select group of navies that have this niche capability,” the MoD adds. “This capability significantly enhances the combat effectiveness of the Indian Navy thereby providing an operational edge over potential adversaries.”


IAI has designed and developed about 80 per cent of the MR-SAM, including the Elta MF-STAR radar and  the VLU canisters. The DRDO has designed the missile’s propulsion system, including a sophisticated dual-pulse motor, thrust vector controls, and the electrical harness (wiring). The DRDO says the MR-SAM project has enabled the indigenous development of a number of new technologies that will feed into new projects, such as the “quick reaction SAM (QR-SAM). Besides the dual pulse rocket motor, this includes a new smokeless propellant.



Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC)

CEC extracts data from sensors aboard surface ships and aircraft throughout the battle group operating region and displays fire control quality data, within microseconds, to every asset in the battle group. By networking at the measurement level, each unit can view the theater air situation through the collective sensors of the combatants, and units are no longer limited in knowledge of air targets and in missile intercept range by the performance limits of their own sensors. The result is a quantum improvement in which advance threats may be composite-tracked and engaged using remote data by networked units that would otherwise not have been able to track or engage them.


Having a fire control quality track on a target as it approaches the battle group enables all ships to engage at their maximum intercept range, taking into account the performance characteristics of each of the missiles. CEC gives the battle group commander an umbrella to protect all the ships and aircraft in the battle group and extends that umbrella of protection well beyond the outermost sensors of the battle group.


CEC is a system of hardware and software that allows the sharing of radar and Identification, Friend or Foe sensor data on air targets amongst CEC equipped units. CEC’s two major system functions consist of a Cooperative Engagement Processor (CEP) for sensor networking and a Data Distribution System (DDS) for real-time communications amongst cooperating units (CU).


Sensor data from individual units are transmitted to other units in the network via the real time high quality, anti-jam capable line of sight, DDS. Each CEC equipped unit uses identical sensor data processing algorithms resident in its CEP, resulting in each unit having the same display of air tracks.


CEC gives an individual ship the added capability to launch anti-air weapons at threat aircraft or missiles within its engagement envelope based on remote sensor data provided by the CEC sensor network. The CEC system makes it possible for multiple surface ships, aircraft and USMC land units to form an air defense network by sharing radar target measurements in real-time.


The CEC system interfaces with the platform’s sensors and combat systems. CEC’s Common Equipment Set (CES) provides hardware components among the different CEC equipped platforms. The basic CEC equipment set consists of an antenna subsystem, a signal data processor, a backup battery and technician control interfaces. The AN/USG-2 CEC system variant is designed for Navy surface ships, the AN/USG-3 CEC system variant is designed for Navy E-2 aircraft, and the AN/USG-4 CEC system variant is designed for the USMC CTN.


CTN is a USMC program. CTN integrates the CEC system with a mobile USMC High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) which incorporates a unique elevated CEC antenna. CTN integrates into the USMC Command and Control system and is capable to operate in a DDS network with other CTN units and/or with Navy CEC equipped units.


Raytheon awarded contract to deliver Cooperative Engagement Capability to U.S. Navy

Raytheon Co. , Largo, Florida, was awarded a $15,267,422 cost-plus-incentive-fee, firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee, and cost-only contract in May 2019  for design agent and engineering services efforts to support the Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC)


The CEC program provides a sensor network with integrated fire control capability that significantly improves strike force air and missile defense capabilities by coordinating measurement data from strike force air search sensors on CEC-equipped units into a single, integrated real-time, composite track air picture. CEC improves battle force effectiveness by improving overall situational awareness and by enabling longer range, cooperative, multiple, or layered engagement strategies.


Earlier, The US Navy’s research arm had awarded Raytheon a contract to develop networking and communications improvements to enable next-generation sensor netting, electromagnetic manoeuvre warfare, and integrated fires across the force.


Under the Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) Communications and Interoperability for Integrated Fires (CIIF) effort, Raytheon will focus on Mission-based Networking for Data Distribution Systems (DDS), also known as MiND, which will increase the throughput and scalability of the Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) DDS.


This program will consist of two separate efforts: Communications-as-a-Service (CaaS); and Mission-based Networking for Data Distribution Systems (MiND). Caas seeks to enable data and information to be delivered via any combination of available data links, while MiND seeks to increase the throughput and scalability of the Navy’s existing Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) data-distribution systems.


Communications-as-a-Service (CaaS)

The CaaS project is to create an on-demand network for the integrated firing of naval weapons via a combination of tactical data links. The idea is not to translate data into different formats but instead to encapsulate the data appropriately through CaaS devices on various platforms to deliver it to the next hop.The challenge will be to deliver critical data quickly and securely enough to coordinate missiles, bombs, naval guns, and electronic warfare jamming in real time.


Key technologies for Caas will include interfaces to various data link systems; ways to sense latencies, loss rates, throughput, and congestion of various data links; establishing data paths based on bounded latency, tolerance to loss of data, and related conditions; deterministic networking to assure the delivery of the highest priority data reliably; and interfaces to request a specific level of service for the data.


Contractors and the Navy experts will use a modeling and emulation environment to assess performance, select the appropriate technologies, and develop an operational prototype to evaluate CaaS in an operationally relevant environment.



Mission-based Networking for Data Distribution Systems (MiND)

The CEC DDS is a networked, directional C-band communications system designed to provide dedicated support to the AN-USG 2/3/4/5(V) CEC system for integrated air and missile defense. The concept for MiND is to enable the DDS to be flexibly employed in support of non-CEC missions. The challenge will be to prevent any adverse impact on the core CEC mission while the DDS is performing these other functions,” according to the ONR’s 2016 Broad Agency Announcement (BAA).


“Key technology areas under consideration for the MiND product include: new waveforms and coding, compatible with components of the CEC transmit/receive chain, to improve throughput, reduce latency, reduce losses, etc; improved distributed resource allocation/scheduling algorithms for directional communications; mechanisms for backward compatibility to ensure that legacy DDS systems can interoperate with those DDS systems with the MiND enhancements; network management and quality of service mechanisms to appropriately handle the delivery of non-CEC data while also improving the efficiency of the delivery of CEC data; and interface with the CaaS device,” according to the BAA.


The navy has sophisticated sensor network systems and has developed the ability to provide integrated track pictures of incoming threats to enable accurate and effective engagement, Grant Leung, said senior programme manager in Raytheon’s Advanced Technology business area. “But there are systems out there that end up being very disparate because they are focused on specific missions. So, they can be very good at doing particular missions, but at the same time they all don’t talk to each other,” Leung said.


“Over time you have limitations [with] legacy hardware and legacy systems, even though they do their job very well. It does lend [itself] for improvement particularly for keeping pace with the threats that we are trying to address,” he added.


The CIFF is intended to develop enhanced performance that is also backward compatible to systems and will introduce systems with reduced size, weight, and power (SWaP) that can be installed on smaller and more flexible platforms to increase range and the ability to communicate beyond line of sight (BLOS).


Potential countermeasures

There is serious concern among the U.S. Navy that key parts of the CEC can be countered by sophisticated electronics. Russian and Chinese advancements in low-frequency radars are increasingly able to detect stealth aircraft; fighters like the F-22 Raptor and F-35 are optimized to avoid detection from higher frequencies in the Ku, X, C, and parts of the S bands, but not from longer wavelengths like L, UHF, and VHF. Previously these bands might see stealth aircraft but not clearly enough to generate a missile lock, but with improved computing power, fire control radars could discern targets more precisely by the 2020s or 2030s.


Warships like the Chinese Type 52C Luyang II and Type 52D Luyang III have both high and low-frequency radars to find aircraft detectable by both wavelength ranges. This would make it difficult for the Navy F-35C to survive in a low-frequency radar environment. The entire NIFC-CA concept is also vulnerable to cyber warfare and electronic attacks, which would be used to disrupt the system reliant on data-links. Long-range anti-radiation missiles can threaten the radar-equipped E-2D, the central node of the NIFC-CA network.





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