You’re a commander preparing for complex battle, focusing on accomplishing your mission. To start, you approach a digital menu of military capability. This is not a mission limited to fighter jets, land-based missile defense systems or ships at sea. You’re going to put all of these assets to use, plus many more, including communications satellites, cyber defenses and electronic warfare. To succeed, you’ll need to weave all of them together into one plan that ensures you are always steps ahead of the enemy. But you’ll need some help, so you review a virtual play-by-play leveraging artificial intelligence to analyze mission impact, safety and speed. Now trusting these decisions and the technology executing them, you give the order for the mission to begin.
Success in this future battlespace scenario will require what the U.S. military calls Multi-Domain Operations (or MDO). MDO won’t just display military technology available for a mission, but will help mission planners weave these elements together, contemplate countless scenarios and make rapid decisions that allow for seamless operations between military assets.
MDO isn’t a new concept. Since the advent of war, troops have communicated across domains from the sea, air, space, land and cyber. What is new – and progressing rapidly – are advancements in technologies such as hypersonics, directed energy and the avalanche of data from powerful sensors.
New tech means new data, new data means more noise, and more noise makes communicating under any circumstance more difficult. Mike Smith, a former Navy Officer and current executive at Lockheed Martin, says this is one of the key challenges his company is working on with the Department of Defense. “We're adding sensors which provide more and more data. And so the challenge is how do we fuse that data in ways that assist the warfighter in decision making,” Smith said. “Synthesizing this ever-expanding set of data streams is where the challenge is, because this data needs to give the warfighter the opportunity to take prompt and decisive action before the adversary is aware of what’s happening.”
This challenge heightens the importance of MDO coming together as one reliable network – linking military assets and communicating life-saving insights, essentially connecting many nodes.
Lockheed Martin demonstrated a new way to connect those nodes in June during an Orange Flag military exercise. Smith say it’s intended to evaluate teamwork and integration across the services.
“Working with the Army and the Air Force, we demonstrated for the first time the ability to track live data with an F-35 and send that data to an integrated air and missile defense platform, which was based in Texas, while the F-35 was conducting operations in California. This showed that you could have an elevated sensor providing live fire control, quality data to an asset hundreds of miles away on the ground.”
Smith says in battle, this approach could detect threats across very different platforms that could put military assets or civilians at risk – giving troops the ability to track targets and act as necessary.
Learn more: Lockheed Martin’s Mike Smith further explains MDO and the challenges involved in connecting technologies in a way that processes data and allows military leaders to make decisions faster.
To help the military jointly advance the MDO concept, Smith says Lockheed Martin is making significant investments in machine-to-machine learning, open-system architecture, and artificial intelligence, and we’re evolving technologies that connect, share, and learn.
At the company’s Lighthouse facility in Suffolk, Virginia, customers take advantage of a 50,000-square-foot, high-end laboratory that provides virtual and physical portals that allow them to connect into Lockheed Martin’s vast network of laboratories, research centers and engineering facilities. They can conduct multi-domain integration and experimentation alongside company engineers, to innovate and determine how they can take and combine technologies and platforms and ways never previously imagined.
Based on decades of mission understanding, the engineers at Lockheed Martin are already integrating MDO on military platforms across multiple programs. To learn more, visit LockheedMartin.com/MDO.
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