The future operating environment articulated by the NDS, the NDS Commission, and other sources describe how potential adversaries have developed sophisticated anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities. These capabilities include electronic warfare, cyber weapons, long-range missiles, and advanced air defenses. U.S. competitors have pursued A2/AD capabilities as a means of countering traditional U.S. military advantages—such as the ability to project power—and improving their ability to win quick, decisive engagements.
The emerging battlefield is a multi-domain battlefield which shall include all the traditional domains of land, air and sea as well as Cyber, Space, Low Intensity conflicts, Information warfare including Psychological warfare and cognitive warfare shall be exploited by our adversaries simultaneously or in any desired combinations. The response of this multidomain battlefield needs to be met with an integrated multidomain response by developing the capability to deliver effects across all domains.
Therefore, there is a need to develop new doctrines, strategies, tactics, capabilities and training for this multidomain environment. Developing and delivering air superiority for the highly contested environment in 2030 requires a multi-domain focus on capabilities and capacity, according to the unclassified version of the Air Superiority 2030 Flight Plan. “After 25 years of being the only great power out there, we’re returning to a world of great power competition,” said Lt. Gen. Mike Holmes. “We need to develop coordinated solutions that bring air, space, cyber, the electronic environment and surface capabilities together to solve our problems.”
Implementing multi-domain operations require Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) which will involve the seamless integration of air, space and cyber capabilities, providing commanders cross-domain options to make more rapid decisions in complex battle spaces.
Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2)
Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) is the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) concept to connect sensors from all of the military services—Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Space Force—into a single network. Traditionally, each of the military services developed its own tactical network that was incompatible with those of other services (i.e., Army networks were unable to interface with Navy or Air Force networks). DOD officials have argued that future conflicts may require decisions to be made within hours, minutes, or potentially seconds compared with the current multiday process to analyze the operating environment and issue commands.
Senior DOD leaders have stated that access to information will be critical in the future operating environment. In addition, these leaders have stated that to challenge potential peer adversaries, a multidomain approach is required (where U.S. forces would use ground, air, naval, space, and cyber forces to challenge an adversary’s targeting calculus). The command and control look at the data (and method of collection) that commanders use to make decisions (i.e., ISR is the data to enable decisionmaking), the processing power to transform data into information, and the systems that enable commanders to communicate their decisions to geographically distributed forces.
JADC2 can be defined as C2 across all domains that protect, permit, and enhances the conduct of operations to create desired effects at the time, place and method of choosing. DOD argues that current C2 programs, like the Air and Space Operation Centers, E-8C Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System, and E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System are not optimized for the speed, complexity, and lethality of future conflict; that the decades-old platforms cannot adequately leverage new technology; and that the supporting structures to enable future C2 either do not exist or require maturation.
Recently, the Chief of Staff of the US Air Force published a white paper that describes three characteristics of JADC2: situational awareness, rapid decision-making, and the ability to direct joint forces to achieve the Commander’s intent. Air Force officials have argued that a JADC2 architecture would enable commanders to (1) rapidly understand the battlespace, (2) direct forces faster than the enemy, and (3) deliver synchronized combat effects across all domains.
JADC2 envisions providing a cloud-like environment for the Joint force to share intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance data, transmitting across many communications networks, to enable faster decision-making. JADC2 intends to enable commanders to make better decisions by collecting data from numerous sensors, processing the data using artificial intelligence algorithms to identify targets, then recommending the optimal weapon—both kinetic and nonkinetic (e.g., cyber or electronic weapons)—to engage the target.
The challenges with operationalizing this concept reside in three domains: technical, policy, and human. In the technical domain, MDC2 systems must have a network that supports the exchange of ‘big data’, removes stove-piped data streams, and improves interoperability. Further, we must be able to identify and remove policy barriers to interoperability to shorten the time from data to decision. Last, in the human domain, command authorities must be established and easily delegated to the tactical level so that those with tactical control (TACON) can produce effects across domains, in real-time.
As DOD develops the JADC2 concept, two types of technologies play an integral role in this approach to command and control military forces: automation and communications.
Automation and Artificial Intelligence
In a January 2021 article, LtGen Groen described the role of artificial intelligence (AI), and by extension the role of data and data structures, to enable these algorithms to inform commanders. LtGen Michael Groen, director of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, stated JADC2 is about automating all of it…. It is about taking advantage of that sensor-rich environment—looking at things like data standards; making sure that we can move this information into an area that, again, we can process it properly; bringing on cloud; bringing on artificial intelligence, predictive analytics; and then undergirding this with a network that can handle this, all domains and partners.
According to DOD, developing JADC2 would require new communications methods. DOD’s current communications network has been optimized for operations in the Middle East. As a result, DOD uses satellites as the primary method to communicate with forces abroad. These systems face latency (time delay) issues and are not designed to operate effectively in the presence of electronic warfare. These older architectures rely on satellites in geosynchronous orbits, which orbit approximately 22,200 miles (35,800 kilometers) above the earth.
New applications, like AI, will potentially require additional data rates that current communications networks might not be able to support—particularly as DOD increases the number of sensors to provide additional data to improve algorithms. The introduction of autonomous systems, such as the Navy’s Large Unmanned Surface and Undersea Vehicles and those resulting from the Army’s growing interest in robotic vehicles, could need both secure communications and short-latency to maintain control of these systems.
DOD has proposed that commercial advances in 5G wireless technologies provide the ability to transfer more data (commonly called data throughput) and lower latencies. DOD argues that it requires these capabilities to process the increased amount of data from numerous sensors (e.g., satellites, aircraft, ships, ground-based radars), and to process this information at the “edge” (at the same site as the radio receiver).
Another aspect of 5G technologies that could enable new command and control concepts is dynamic spectrum sharing. As the electromagnetic spectrum becomes more congested, the federal government has started allowing multiple users to operate on the same frequency band (known as spectrum sharing). The DOD CIO argues that spectrum sharing technology allows for communications systems to transmit and receive data in the presence of interference. In September 2020, DOD CIO issued a request for information to industry, on how to approach dynamic spectrum sharing. On January 21, 2021, 67 responses to the request for information had been posted.
DOD Lines of Effort
DOD. DOD is leading a Joint Cross-Functional Team to explore JADC2 as the concept evolves. The team includes representatives from the offices of the DOD Chief Information Officer, the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, and the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment.
Joint Staff. The Joint Staff is leading efforts to move JADC2 from a concept to policies, doctrine, requirements, and overarching research and development strategies. The Joint Staff designated the Air Force as the executive agent for JADC2 technology development.
Air Force. To implement JADC2, the Air Force is developing the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS). ABMS is a network intended to provide data to pass information across all domains. Air Force leaders stated that ABMS has been used to help facilitate DOD support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout FY2020, the Air Force has held at least three ABMS demonstrations to connect
Army. The Army’s modernization strategy identified network modernization to enable multidomain operations. Army Futures Command is the service representative developing the JADC2 concept. As part of an exercise called Project Convergence, it has conducted a series of experiments demonstrating the service’s ability to provide access to joint and coalition networks. The Army tested several concepts transmitting targeting information using nontraditional methods in September 2020 in Project Convergence’s first demonstration.
Navy and Marine Corps. The Navy and Marine Corps have articulated the need for all-domain command and control through their Distributed Maritime Operations concept and the Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations concept. The plans envision a distributed network of ships, submarines, aircraft, and satellites connecting sensors with shooters while challenging adversary targeting abilities. Navy ships have participated in several exercises
DARPA: Mosaic Warfare Mosaic Warfare represents a series of DARPA-sponsored projects designed to use AI to combine systems and networks not traditionally designed to interoperate. Conceptually these projects would be able to take raw intelligence collected from a satellite and turn that data into targetable information passed to a “shooter”—in this case, a cyber-weapon, electronic jammer, missile, aircraft, or any other weapon that might be able to affect the desired target. The second aspect of this approach uses AI-generated software to enable different radios to communicate with each other within an hour. A third aspect is a project devoted to airspace deconfliction. Rather than relying on a number of specialized personnel to manually identify the location and status of air assets, for example, DARPA software automatically tracks this information and relays it to commanders.
Air Force Seeks White Papers for Multi-Domain Aerial Warfighting Network R&D
The U.S. Air Force has begun to seek white papers from industry for a potential $24.9 million program to research, develop, integrate and test novel technology platforms and techniques that work to provide agile data transmission and networking capabilities to aerial platforms.
Efforts under this BAA are expected to enable the Air Force to provide a transportable network, flexible enough to communicate with any air, space, or ground asset in the area. The network will provide a beyond line-of-sight (BLOS) communications infrastructure that can be packed up and moved in and out of the designated battlespace, enabling the military to have a reliable and secure communications network that extends globally. The network is designed to be flexible enough to provide the right communication and network packages for a specific region, mission, or technology.
The BAA objective is to conceive, develop and demonstrate innovative and affordable technologies that provide agile and secure information transmission, network and dissemination capabilities to aerial platforms that enable the sharing of quality information within resource and policy constraints. The intent is to expand the Global Information grid (GIG) to connect three major domains of warfare: Air, Space, and Terrestrial. The goal is to deliver timely, reliable, and actionable information to warfighters and weapon systems across the United States Air Force enterprise to support Command and Control, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance.
The BAA has four focus areas and those include agile aerial network architecture; information transport performance management; integration and interoperability with GIG; and multi-domain aerial networking.
Agile Aerial Network Architecture
- Develop multi-domain network architectures that support self-organizing, self-healing autonomous machine-to-machine data routing and dissemination.
• Develop self-aware/sentient cross-Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) layer network communications paradigms that support cooperative learning and reconfiguration-on-the-fly of mobile networks, by sensing and adapting to operational environment and mission requirements.
• Demonstrate cooperative wireless network communications that allow nodes in a wireless network to share resources and to cooperatively transmit, providing reliable, robust connectivity via multipath routing.
Information Transport Performance Management
- Develop the communications management capabilities to support the management of Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) related network and information system and communications resources.
• Develop information management algorithms capable of dynamically requesting data from multiple ISR sensors in order to enhance current capabilities for detecting, locating, identifying, and tracking ground moving targets.
• Develop the mechanisms to enable mission-based priority schemes and assured information delivery techniques supporting the exchange of ISR traffic, as well as other network traffic. Develop metrics such as Kill Chain Reduction, Bandwidth Efficiency, or Network Availability to gauge performance and effects.
Integration and Interoperability with the Global Information Grid (GIG)
- Integrate new communications resources available on the ISR platform(s) to enable increased communications capability.
• Study potential ISR collection planning and envisioned dynamic tasking techniques being developed for current and future Air Operations Centers (AOCs). Develop the information management algorithms to ensure they will operate within the constraints of these envisioned collection management techniques.
• In conjunction with the Government, work with the operational community to address Concepts of Operation (CONOPS) issues associated with ISR platform interoperability.
• Conduct airborne flight experiments utilizing multiple ISR assets aimed at demonstrating capabilities for increasing multi-platform interoperability and tracking performance.
Multi-Domain Aerial Networking
• Develop methods for cross tactical data network (TDN) and tactical data link (TDL) message passing at the tactical edge.
• Develop methods for passing metadata (QoS, timing requirements, etc.) between TDNs and TDLs.
• Conduct or survey modelling and simulation to quantify improvements in appropriate mission metrics as a result of advances in multi-domain tactical edge data sharing.
• Conduct airborne experiments demonstrating live, in-flight multi-domain data sharing between tactical assets
DOD has held at least two major JADC2 exercises. The first, held in Florida in December 2019, focused on a simulated cruise missile threat to the homeland. The exercise represented the first demonstration of ABMS. Air Force and Navy aircraft (including F-22 and F-35 fighter jets), a Navy destroyer, an Army Sentinel radar system, a mobile artillery system, plus commercial space and ground sensors demonstrated an ability to collect, analyze, and share data in real-time and provide a fuller picture of the operating environment to a C2 cell.
DOD performed a second test of JADC2 in July 2020. During this test, Air Force aircraft connected with naval vessels positioned in the Black Sea, along with special operations forces and eight other NATO nations, in a simulated environment to counter a potential Russian threat.
Raytheon’s vice president of mission support and modernization, Todd Probert, explained that Raytheon’s work within the “foundational layer” involves enabling services to play and talk together, much like applications on a cellphone. Though apps are developed by different organizations, he said, they are brought into a single store. Using the example of a mapping layer, Probert noted how several apps can render a map even though they may not even know the map app provider in and of itself.
Raytheon is also building applications to help commanders better understand the non-kinetic effects of battle such as cyberspace. “In the space of an operations environment, we’ve built modeling and simulation capabilities to merge kinetic ― again, bullets and missiles ― and non-kinetic, things like cyber and electronic warfare and other things into that same space using frames of reference that our military understands ― mostly kinetic ― to project how they might employ these non-kinetic-like things.”
“The key is really as the speed of information and the speed of war increases, making sure that we can get the right information to the right person to allow them to make that decision quickly,” said Renee Pasman, mission systems road maps director for the Skunk Works division, adding that being able to share that information across the entire network is critical.
“What we’re looking at doing is enabling the vision of linking assets that are space-based, in the air, in the sea and on the ground to create combined effects,” according to Jack O’Banion, vice president of strategy and customer requirements for Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. “[The] challenge is: How do you create a dynamic network that allows you to link things together to create effects inside the bubble and from outside the bubble to create collaborative engagements and multiple dilemmas for an adversary?”
“One key thing from a Lockheed Martin perspective is we’re trying to approach the technologies … there’s key enabling technologies that come up again and again and again; open-system architecture, automation, that ability to do machine to machine. And part of what we’re trying to do is make sure all of those technologies are mature no matter where the Air Force chooses to apply them so the technology doesn’t limit how the Air Force uses their systems. It’s really how they want to use it to be most effective for the war fighter.”
Tom Gould, head of business development for Harris Corporation, when asked how he sees the company fitting into multi-domain concepts, said the company is developing a modem and a waveform that is truly multi-domain, highly jam resistant and very hard to detect. This will allow forces in the ground, in the air and in space to seamlessly talk to one another without being detected and without being jammed, he said.
Lockheed Martin in April held a war game on multi-domain C2 to help inform the Air Force and the ECCT team. The war game looked at operational planning in air, space and cyber in support of the ECCT.
Some of the capabilities displayed during the demonstration included:
- The ability of a multi-domain common operational picture to illustrate to commanders that either a cyber, air, space or a mix of each can be used against a certain target overlaid on a map.
- Coordinated planning and air-tasking orders to include coordinated and space tasks pushed to tactical C2 nodes.
- Use of software applications to unburden pilots in single-cockpit aircraft to allow them to focus on their primary tasks.
- Software that automatically detects that and automatically will find the next best communications path through which to send information if links are broken due to jamming or distance without any input from the pilot.
- Machine learning to pick out key targets from a synthetic aperture radar map, which normally would take several minutes for a well-trained operator to find.
- Ability for the machine to make recommendations to the commander for effects to be used.
Open-architecture command and control
Under the Department of Defense’s Internet of Things-like concept of operations known as Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2), no defense contractor should own any of the data that is collected, processed or shared among military services and across the domains of warfare, C-Suite leaders from Boeing, Northrop Grumman and L3Harris Technologies agreed during a panel at the Air Force Association’s 2021 Air, Space & Cyber conference. Rather, that will belong to the services and the larger systems they develop, like the Air Force and its Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS).
The new system architecture is based on open architecture, with an open systems approach and open data standards such that the IP stays in the box, and everything between the boxes is completely open. In Nov 2020, Air Force hired 24 companies to develop enabling technologies for open-architecture command and control. Officials of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, announced the 24 companies in the potential $950 billion Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) program. This program seeks to develop and operate systems across air, land, sea, space, cyber, and electromagnetic spectrum military domains in an open-architecture family of systems that integrates several platforms to enable new warfighting capabilities.
Companies selected are:
— Altamira Technologies Corp. in McLean, Va.;
— Amergint Technologies Inc. in Colorado Springs, Colo.;
— Carahsoft Technology Corp. in Reston, Va.;
— Geosite Inc. in Stanford, Calif.;
— Lyteworx Automation Systems LLC in Alexandria, Va.;
— MarkLogic Corp. in San Carlos, Calif.;
— Rebellion Defense Inc. in Washington;
— Rhombus Power Inc. in Moffett Field, Calif.;
— Soar Technology Inc. in Ann Arbor, Mich.;
— Vidrovr Inc. in New York;
— Advanced Simulation Research Inc. in Orlando, Fla.;
— Borsight Inc. in Ogden, Utah;
— Datanchor Inc. in New Albany, Ohio;
— Paste link hereDigital Mobilizations Inc. in Warrenton, Va.;
— Elbit Systems of America in Fort Worth, Texas;
— F9 Teams Inc. in Seattle;
— Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. in Reston, Va.;
— Infinity Labs LLC in Dayton, Ohio;
— Radiant Solutions in Herndon, Va.;
— Microsoft Corp. in Redmond, Wash.;
— Ortman Consulting LLC in Alexandria, Va.;
— Peraton Inc. in Herndon, Va.;
— Orbital Effects in Ann Arbor, Mich.; and
— Sierra Nevada Corp. in Sparks, Nev.
These companies will share as much as $950 million over the next five years to find better ways to establish situational awareness, develop courses of action, and deliver effects at unmatched speed for U.S. military forces and its allies.
The Joint All Domain Command & Control (JADC2) — formerly referred to as Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) — seeks to develop technologies for multi-domain operations designed for real-time data collection, validation, and analysis; artificial intelligence (AI)-based human-augmented decision making; data security, identity, and trusted access; and real-time communications via decentralized network automation to speed-up military decision support, decision making, and communications.
These companies will undertake prototype projects using commercially available technologies, concept demonstrations, pilots, and agile development to improve commercial technologies incrementally for broad defense and public applications. On these contracts, the companies will do the work at locations to be determined at the contract direct order level, and should be finished by May 2025. For more information contact the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at www.aflcmc.af.mil.
Air Force Research Laboratory and Catalyst Accelerator Announce Applications Are Open for Space Communications Cohort
The Catalyst Accelerator announced it will launch the third space technology cohort focused on innovative Resilient Commercial Space Communications in April 2019. The semi-residential, 12-week, cohort-based Catalyst Accelerator program is hosted by Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Space Vehicles Directorate at Catalyst Campus and includes seed investment, network connections, mentorship, workshops, and opportunities for future investment and growth.
Catalyst Accelerator is seeking established startups and small businesses with commercial solutions to expand, enhance, reinforce, and improve current space communication capabilities. The U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense (DoD) are interested in emerging space assets to integrate into a resilient multi-domain network rather than creating stove-piped solutions for space communications. Current Air Force and DoD space communication challenges include but are not limited to robust and cybersecure communications networking solutions, interoperability among existing communications solutions, jam-resistant technology, band exploitation, and solutions for low-likelihood of interception and detection. Proposed applicant technologies may be ground-based or space-borne and can involve some combination of hardware devices, software, data products, algorithms, or services.