The Future Requires Convergence: Helping the Army Prepare for a Very Different Fight
The Army’s Fight for Battlefield Control is Changing
Pat Donahue retired from the U.S. Army as a Lieutenant General in 2017. During his career he served in many roles, including five tours to execute counter-insurgency campaigns, training African armies for peacekeeping missions and deploying conventional U.S. Army units world-wide for three years, mainly to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Back then, the mission was counterinsurgency, primarily focused on Africa and the Middle East.
Today the National Defense Strategy has shifted the Department of Defense’s focus to the great power competition with Russia and China. There’s a growing emphasis on readiness to address tensions within the Indo-Pacific region, where present and future challenges are substantially different from past conflicts. The entire DoD is preparing for Joint All-Domain Operations (JADO), which will connect previously disparate assets to share data and enhance decision-making.
The Army will quickly adapt its operations in a physical terrain marked not by deserts and large land mass, but by oceans and island chains. It will move its focus away from addressing the issues inherent with countries divided by opposing internal factions to new strategies for well-resourced, highly-disciplined and technologically-advanced governments.
To Win the Fight, the Army Needs to Fight with Integrated Weapons Across All Domains
It’s a transformational shift.
What was once simply a concept is becoming a reality today. Now, the Army can take manned aircraft, unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and small UAS launched from aircraft or air launched effects and have them work together in an ecosystem to detect and locate threats. Lockheed Martin is now helping the Army realize this future.
“Back in the 2000s, I could have used electronic warfare systems Lockheed Martin developed when we had air assault missions in Afghanistan and Iraq,” said Donahue, now the Vice President for Army and Special Operations Forces Programs at Lockheed Martin Government Affairs.
One of these modernization tools that will support the Army’s transformation to a multi-domain operation force, is Future Vertical Lift (FVL) which includes the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) and Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) programs. Through Sikorsky, Lockheed Martin is out front with RAIDER X® its FARA offering, and DEFIANT X™ developed with partner Boeing to support FLRAA.
RAIDER X and DEFIANT X – specifically designed to support JADO in the Indo-Pacific theatre – provide speed and range, delivering combat power at the objective, also known as the ‘X.’ These agile, highly maneuverable aircraft offer high speed, low-level flight capabilities and bring the transformational strategic and operational reach the warfighter requires in 2030 and beyond.
No one better understands the significance of these capabilities than Kevin Mangum, retired Lieutenant General who previously commanded the Army Aviation Center of Excellence and current vice president of Army Aviation Programs at Lockheed Martin. “FARA is the conductor, orchestrating the JADO fight. Through RAIDER X, we’ll be able to process data from other systems and provide warfighters with real combat information, closing the sensor-to-shooter loop.”
Mangum cited the company’s experience with the F-35 and other systems like submarines and missiles as central to the FVL effort. “Integrating capability into a fifth-generation system and providing for tactical effect is what we do,” he said. “We want our customer to be able to catch up with the bad guys and pass them for decades to come.”
Data Enables the Army to Connect All Sensors with All Shooters
"On a JADO battlefield, we have to pass data back and forth instantly for seamless decision making – and we’ve built and demonstrated systems that can do this,” said Donahue, citing examples like the ability to deliver joint integrated fires. “For the JADO fight to be successful, that data has to be standardized – which is something we’ve done and then fielded for our own systems within Lockheed Martin."
Lockheed Martin Can Bring This Capability With Modifications to Existing Products and Creating New Technology
Yet one element bridges then and now: the recognition and need for the technologies that facilitate Combined, Joint All-Domain Command and Control (CJADC2), the Army’s priority for this new era of warfare, enabling faster decision-making by connecting previously isolated systems together.
“My goal was always to have joint U.S. and coalition forces supported by artillery. At that time, we had to take some creative measures in small outposts to provide that support – but now we’re producing long-range rockets like GMLRS that greatly extend effects to 160 kilometers and beyond to support joint operations. Hitting targets at this distance and beyond enables JADO.”
It’s one example of the innovation that will form the linchpin of CJADC2, delivering powerful mission advantage to joint forces as they execute missions together. These also include elements like cyber capabilities that can disrupt targets, hypersonics that hit or exceed Mach 5 and strike targets at great range, and electronic warfare (EW) effects like silencing an adversary’s communications.
Convergence, Donahue says, is at the center of the emerging CJADC2 playbook. “This is about pulling effects from all domains, from space to land to sea, to confound and ultimately defeat adversarial forces,” Donahue observed. “A linear attack is simple to address but convergence on a target from multiple fronts makes it extraordinarily difficult for an adversary to defeat.”
Moreover, Donahue agrees that being able to augment current technology with transformative solutions is key to fielding JADO-relevant technology quickly. He noted the Q-53 radar was originally designed to detect incoming artillery and mortars, but now identifies UAVs after the integration of new Lockheed Martin software. “We made that radar more versatile and more capable than ever before,” said Donahue.
Space-based connectivity, like the 10 satellites Lockheed Martin is building for Space Development Agency Transport Layer, will introduce Link-16 from space, further connecting terrestrial nodes like F-16 fighters, THAAD, PAC-3 missiles within our Integrated Air-and-Missile Defense system. This beyond-line-of-site tracking, targeting and communications will dramatically extend U.S. warfighting options and allow additional coalition and allied partners to eventually bring their capabilities into the network. That kind of true interoperability is what JADO is all about.
In addition to augmenting and amplifying the power of existing platforms through software upgrades, the company continues to pursue new technology development for multi-domain operations.
“We’ve always invested in emerging technologies and today we’re seeing the results,” said Donahue. “Our land-based hypersonics are holding at-risk threats at ranges that were inconceivable even two years ago. We’re also getting ready to demonstrate our Multi-Function Electronic Warfare-Air Large (MFEW-AL) solution, the longest range Army sensor, this year.”