Revolution in military affairs have continually challenged leaders looking to prevail in combat. From the phalanx and the English long bow, to repeating rifles and tanks capable of crossing trenches, battlefield innovations have tipped the scales in favor of those willing to embrace progress. More recently, night-vision devices completely changed the nature of battle during the Gulf War by giving the military the ability to “own the night.” That provided “the single greatest mismatch in the war,” according to retired U.S. Army General Barry McCaffrey.
Fast-forward to today, and we’re experiencing a similar breakthrough. Now, the U.S. military and its allies can see and control the virtual battlefield thanks to an integration of capabilities from the realms of signals intelligence, cyber techniques and effects, electronic warfare (EW), and information operations (IO).
The combination of integrated capabilities, known at Lockheed Martin as “Spectrum Convergence,” seamlessly enables warfighters to sense, identify, and neutralize emerging threats operating in the electromagnetic spectrum, including wireless computer networks and radars, as well as satellites, sensors, and critical infrastructure. This provides the U.S. military and allies an advantage in a new era of warfare; one where digital attacks cripple enemies in advance of, and in coordination with, strikes across air, land, sea, space and cyberspace.
“Imagine a weapon that never runs out of bullets, never needs to reload and is constantly adapting to emerging threats.”
Integrating Digital Technologies
Controlling the Electromagnetic Spectrum From the Air, on the Ground, and at High Speed
How do you monitor and manipulate the electromagnetic spectrum on the go? Meet Silent CROW, an open architecture system that can be easily configured for a variety of airborne and ground platforms, including as a wing-mounted pod on unmanned aerial systems, and potentially on high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft and even fighter jets.
For decades, Lockheed Martin has pioneered advanced technologies to help the U.S. military and allies control the electromagnetic spectrum to outpace adversary threats.
The latest major initiative to come out of Lockheed Martin’s newly formed Spectrum Convergence unit, Silent CROW was built to enable U.S. soldiers to disrupt, deny, degrade, deceive and destroy adversaries’ electronic systems through electronic support, electronic attack, and cyber techniques.
“Silent CROW is the next evolution of our cyber/electronic warfare systems,” says Deon Viergutz, VP, Spectrum Convergence. “It’s a great example of the type of new technologies we’re focusing on – scalable, affordable, and designed to help our DoD customers overcome advances in adversary technologies to effectively support warfighter in joint, all-domain operations.”
Next, there’s electronic warfare. It employs directed radio frequency energy – ranging from radio signals through radar, up to lasers and beyond – to manipulate, control, or even destroy an adversary’s ability to effectively use the electromagnetic spectrum. EW comprises three categories with offensive, defensive, and preventative functions: electronic support, electronic attack, and electronic protection. Common uses include gathering intelligence on electromagnetic spectrum activity, jamming communications, and protecting against adversaries trying to do the same. “Imagine a weapon that never runs out of bullets, never needs to reload and is constantly adapting to emerging threats,” says Tony Colucci, Lockheed Martin’s business development senior manager for integrated Electronic Warfare Systems. “It’s an incredibly compelling proposition, which is why militaries are beginning to invest so heavily in these systems.” Lockheed Martin has deployed more than 7,800 electronic warfare systems to the Naval fleet, airborne platforms and ground forces.
Then there is signals intelligence (SIGINT); a powerful tool commanders can use to harness critical information for today’s and future fights. The SIGINT mission is critical for EW personnel to characterize the signals they are prosecuting to allow them to observe all aspects of the electromagnetic spectrum. Moreover, it helps confirm targets, support battle damage assessments, and cross-cue other tactical and national assets for more precise geolocations to do real-time targeting. “With the ability to fuse EW, SIGINT, and imagery from all sources, the power at the strategic and tactical edges is endless.” said Louise Doyon, director of Multi-domain Weapons Systems.
Finally, information operations (IO) encompasses the collection of information about an adversary’s operating environment as well as the active control of the narrative in pursuit of a competitive advantage over an opponent. Increasingly, enemy forces view IO as the next generation of information warfare. Bad actors now commonly use IO to identify, infiltrate, and manipulate digital forums where people gather to discuss religious, political, or cultural affiliations. As a result, the U.S. military and allies are clamoring for leading-edge IO architecture tools that enable them to protect networks and military members.
“We’ve reorganized based on what’s happening in the battlefield – to deliver the most effective weaponry and to stay ahead of the threats in the electromagnetic spectrum.”
Agile, Open and Ready for Innovation
While cyber, EW, SIGINT and IO have always been related, operators in each field have historically worked in silos. But that’s changing. On the battlefield, everything happens fluidly, and the tools of warfare need to be fully interoperable and integrated. As a result, Lockheed Martin is investing millions in internal research and development dollars to fuse its research and development programs so teams can collaborate on products that work seamlessly in the field. The company is adding to its ranks of engineers experts in the Internet of Things, machine learning and wireless protocols. They collaborate on developing products that draw from the power of big data, machine-to-machine communications, and AI-powered algorithms to identify the potential threats across the spectrum in real-time.
“It all comes down to innovating more rapidly,” says Edward Thiel, a chief engineer in Spectrum Convergence. “Our customers are really emphasizing speed. The threats they face are constantly evolving, and the warfighter is constantly trying to overcome new and emerging threats.”
In the U.S. and Great Britain, military branches increasingly expect government contractors to function more like innovative technology companies. They want cross-sector collaboration and a more agile development scheme that enables their weaponry to be more flexible and cooperative, regardless of the manufacturer. Lockheed Martin has answered that call.
“Based on what’s happening on the battlefield, we’ve reorganized to deliver the most effective weaponry and to stay ahead of the threats in the electromagnetic spectrum,” says Deon Viergutz, vice president of Spectrum Convergence. “We're embracing an open systems, open architecture approach, where we’re not locked into proprietary interfaces. And we’ve embraced the agile delivery model. This is key to our ability to move much faster as a company to meet the demands of the marketplace in support of the warfighter.”
Whether fitted to a manned or unmanned aircraft or manned/unmanned ground vehicles, weapons need to be software-driven, intelligent, and customizable. The days of stocking up on expensive parts, performing piecemeal retrofits, and hoping the equipment brought to battle will achieve its objective are over. And open business models are here to stay. “Complying with well-defined, open architecture standards, such as the Sensor Open System Architecture and C4ISR/EW Modular Open Suite of Standards, is the new DoD standard,” says John Wojnar, director of Cyber/EW Convergence Strategy. “We work in partnership with our customers and teammates to take the latest techniques in cyber and electronic warfare from anywhere in the marketplace and make them available in a timely manner. Lockheed Martin was an early adopter in the open standards space – and we’ve been leading the charge ever since.”