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USAF developing Multi domain Command and Control for Integrated and Networked Multidomain capability

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 integrated multidomain response by developing capability to deliver effects across all domains.  Therefore, there is need to develop new doctrines, strategies, tactics, capability 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 is achieving MDC2. U.S. Air Force, under the direction of Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, has made multi-domain command and control a top priority. Broadly speaking, this 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. The Air Force is in the throes of a highly anticipated study on the issue lead by the multi-domain C2 enterprise capability collaboration team, or ECCT.

Multi domain Command and Control

MDC2 can be defined as C2 across all domains that protects, permits and enhances the conduct of operations to create desired effects at the time, place and method of choosing. Recently, the Chief of Staff of the US Air Force published a white paper that describes three characteristics of MDC2: situational awareness, rapid decision-making, and the ability to direct joint forces to achieve Commander’s intent.


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.


To ensure effective MDC2, however, a platform must be selected which can readily observe and communicate across the space, air, ground and surface domains. As NATO’s key airborne tactical BMC2 asset, the E-3As are the logical platform for future MDC2 operations. They are uniquely qualified to engage in multi-domain operations, as they already engage in air, ground and surface BMC2. The next evolution of the E-3A will expand its capabilities in the space domain and enhance many of its existing air, ground and surface abilities, to provide the technical capability for effective MDC2 in NATO 2025 and beyond.


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.


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.


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.



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.

  1.  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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.

  1. 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



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.




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