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.
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.
Effective, efficient allocation of finite resources, such as sensor coverage, communications capability, target assignments and platforms as a whole, are critical to success in highly contested engagements against peer competitors. This needs to take a holistic, theater-wide view of resource management, lends itself to a highly centralized approach. However, the anticipated emphasis of potential adversaries on disrupting our communications, command, and control infrastructure makes simple highly centralized control architectures vulnerable, consequently requiring innovative solutions that operate across the theater while retaining resiliency.
Therefore, DARPA launched JAWS program in April 2020 to develop novel approaches that provide comprehensive battlespace awareness and assurance of mission success in a contested environment along with tools encompassing target search through battle damage assessment at a faster decision rate than ever before. Specifically, the focus of JAWS is battle management with dynamic command and control at theater scale with tactical coordination to accomplish goals of target custody and weapon/target pairing for engagements.
The DARPA JAWS program seeks to develop a software suite to maximize the effectiveness of
military force through theater scale battle management command and control with automation
and predictive analytics. Sensors, weapons, and decision makers are not assumed to be colocated, and this program considers dynamic coordination of kill webs across the battlespace.
This approach to battle management command and control enables flexibility during execution
by empowering decision makers to optimize tasking assignments.
The goal of this program is to develop the enabling software for the warfighter to adaptably setup and execute synchronized kill webs encompassing the undersea, sea surface, land, air, space, and electromagnetic domains. The foundational issues for command and control are sensing, communications, and weapons. For the purpose of JAWS, sensing is the ability to detect, geolocate, and identify/classify potential targets sufficiently to engage a weapon, which will vary parametrically by domain and target type. Communications in this context is the ability to ensure the appropriate quantity of data can be passed at the right time and latency in order to coordinate the functions necessary to deploy, maintain, and maneuver assets within the environment.
The tasking of weapons is the assignment of weapons and target for engagement with a focus on coordination between weapon systems (e.g. surface, land, and electromagnetic). Each of these components have geospatial and temporal variations, and their optimization is the critical challenge to be addressed by JAWS. Battle damage assessment restarts the cycle and should be considered within sensing. DARPA anticipates performers using these concepts at a minimum when executing the program. However, other taxonomy approaches could be addressed in proposals provided they encompass dynamic execution of all domain kill chains in a kill web context.
The theater-wide coordination of kill webs represents a scaling problem where technology can
augment humans to improve capacity. Traditionally, the military community separates the
planning and execution cycles with a focus on centralized planning and distributed execution,
which allows a high degree of centralization with high-level planning and proliferated tactical
communications for low-level execution. Static separation of responsibilities allows large
amounts of autonomy and flexibility within lower echelon units but results in strict hierarchies
that are difficult to adapt in evolving situations as the number of targets grow. The result is a
military process focused on human intensive task planning and widespread tactical radios with
targeting information. One goal of the JAWS program is to develop the software tools that
disrupt this trade-off and vary the level of centralization or tactical scope as needed by the
decision maker or mission. In order to orchestrate these resources, JAWS desires a distributed
command and control structure using dynamic teaming and machine-to-machine interfaces in
order to enable a spectrum of centralized and distributed planning and execution combinations.
For example, when few targets and resources are involved, much of the overall battlespace can
be pushed to the tactical edge without need for significant coordination. However when large
numbers of targets are present over large areas, theater level coordination is needed to enable
efficient resource allocation. While human operators are responsible for traditional planning and
execution cycles, DARPA seeks to reframe these processes from cyclical to continuous
interactions with human operators.
All-domain kill webs result in a wide variety of timescales and latencies to be coordinated during
a mission. The surface domain can change on the order of hours, while the air domain can
change drastically in minutes. This program specifically considers the need to control all
domains within a single architecture. For example, if high-bandwidth, low-latency
communications are universally available then globally optimal tactical (e.g. weapon fires)
decisions could be made in a centralized location. If systems have high-latency, then some
decisions and tactical scope may be pushed down into the system for time sensitive decisions
closer to the fight. Similar decentralization may be needed to ensure resilience. JAWS is not
intended to prescribe command structures but enable them based on mission need. The JAWS system is inherently a man-machine team and DARPA desires novel approaches that enable realtime orchestration with planning horizons sufficiently large enough to impact overall metrics.
Ultimately, the tools developed in JAWS should support the various speeds needed by decision
makers to synchronize kill webs at scale.
The intended users of JAWS are the joint force commanders working across military services
and warfare domains (e.g. combatant or joint task force commander) and battlespace owners
with control over tasking and objectives (theater or task force components). It is anticipated that
select command and control forces at the tactical edge will interface with JAWS for tight
coordination. The robotics and artificial intelligence communities have had significant success
in planning and control mechanisms that rely on probabilistic or data-dependent adaption so
DARPA anticipates the key is varying the level of automation with the scale of the problem.
Ultimately, the tools developed in this program should shape warfighting and redefine doctrine.
US software company Systems and Technology Research (STR) has received a $15.04 million contract modification from DARPA to continue work on the Joint All-Domain Warfighting Software (JAWS) programme.
DARPA is exercising Phase 1 and Phase 2 options for JAWS with work scheduled for completion by late June 2023. It awarded STR the original $15.18 million contract in December 2020.
Raytheon subsequently received a $10.45 million research contract for JAWS in January 2021, with work due for completion in April 2022.