Across platforms, Across Domains

Across platforms, Across Domains
February 14, 2023

How Open Systems are Enabling Integration and Interoperability for Spectrum Superiority

By Deon Viergutz, vice president Lockheed Martin Spectrum Convergence

A 21st Century Security® Challenge

A paradigm shift in modern warfare is putting Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations (EMSO) at the forefront for the U.S. military and allies. Threats are no longer specific to a geographic location, but more pervasive and harder to see. The Electromagnetic Spectrum (EMS) is a domain in and of itself—an invisible mesh blanketed across platforms and devices in the air, land, sea and space. From cellphones and laptops, to ships, tanks, fighter jets, and satellites, each utilizes and depends upon the electromagnetic spectrum. In a conflict, each can be exploited through it.

With adversaries bringing to bear new threats spanning both kinetic and non-kinetic battlefields, capable of being delivered at extremely long ranges, the U.S. military and allies have had to rethink offensive and defensive capabilities across the entire kill chain— effectively protecting our own command and control activities against enemy interference and actively monitoring, manipulating, and disrupting the enemy's command and control activities.

In this new era of warfare, Spectrum Superiority is a major enabler for Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) and Joint All-Domain Operations (JADO). Without control of the EMS, ships won’t be able to navigate, missiles won’t be able to find their targets, and critical data won’t be shared across platforms and systems.  At its base level, Spectrum Superiority allows the U.S. military and allies to stay connected to each other, know where the enemy is, and deny adversaries that same capability. It is the bastion for situational awareness on the battlefield. 

As software and technology continue to evolve, open system architectures ensure platforms and systems stay relevant over time and as the threats change. They allow us to reduce the cost and time needed to develop and deploy critical capabilities to the warfighter. Open systems architectures enable rapid upgrades, the ability to quickly swap out hardware, and ensures systems in operation today, as well as systems of the future, work together and share information to create a comprehensive view of the battlespace, enabling JADC2/JADO.

The more that government and industry can remove hurdles and integrate these open system architectures across the joint services, the faster the U.S., allies, and partners will be able to respond to and stay ahead of emerging threats. 

This concept of open system architectures is not merely a future state, but is being proven out with programs of record across the services today. 

More Platforms, More Integration

The more systems can interoperate with a common hardware and software capability set, communicate and share data at the tactical edge, the more decision advantage our warfighters have to deliver both kinetic and non-kinetic effects using the right platforms for the right missions.     

The U.S. Army’s Terrestrial Layer System-Brigade Combat Team (TLS-BCT) and Muti-Function Electronic Warfare-Air Large (MFEW-AL) are already demonstrating this concept across ground and air platforms. Utilizing Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (C5ISR)/Electronic Warfare Modular Open Suite of Standards (CMOSS), the platforms share hardware and software commonality, allowing for maximum integration and interoperability. Designed to operate either individually or as an integrated Family of Systems, TLS-BCT and MFEW-AL can deliver an integrated suite of Cyber, Electronic Warfare, and Signals intelligence capabilities.

There is a similar thread in the Maritime realm. Currently, every part of the U.S. Navy’s fleet has some ability to detect threats, but it’s often happening in real-time. As we look to future conflicts, we must be able to collect enough information from multiple sources so ships can detect a threat and respond before an adversary knows we’re there.

Spectrum Convergence

Systems like the Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP) Block 2, Advanced Off-Board Electronic Warfare (AOEW) and emerging Scaled Electronic Attack (EA) technologies are designed to complement each other, share data, and deliver effects from multiple avenues. Scaled EA, specifically, is a low SWaP-C solution that can be fielded on a wide range of Navy surface vessels, allowing us to defend against threats across domains. In addition, a system like Scaled EA does not require a long maintenance availability to be installed on new platforms; it can be done pier side with minimal impact to the ship and crew. This means that we can expand EW capabilities across the fleet quickly and affordably, ensuring that our ships stay in the fight and ahead of ready. Utilizing an open architected approach, these systems have compatible software and hardware designed to work together, providing more options as well as simplifying system design and upgradability.   

What does this all mean for the servicemembers in the fight?

As the battlespace requirements change, these open architectures allow warfighters to act more quickly – meaning responding to the evolving threat environment is as simple as swapping out a card in the system and being able to do it at the tactical level. And by lowering the SWaP for these open architectures, we can continue to expand these capabilities to more platforms across domains, ultimately allowing greater decision advantage to commanders. 

Connecting the Spectrum with 5G

To advance the JADC2/JADO concept through Spectrum Superiority, rapidly connecting and integrating platforms, sensors, and command and control nodes are vital. NextGen wireless technologies, such as 5G/FutureG, will allow more rapid distribution of data, providing commanders with quality information to make faster decisions inside an enemy’s decision cycle. Advancing JADO is central to Lockheed Martin’s 21st Century Security® vision that focuses on resilient interoperability and interconnectedness of platforms and capabilities across all domains.

Lockheed Martin’s 5G.MIL® solutions integrate military communications with tactical gateway capabilities (“.MIL”) and enhanced 5G technology (5G) to enable seamless, resilient and secure connectivity and data flow across all battlefield assets, new and existing.  The result: the ability to deliver accurate and timely information for decisive action on the battlefield.

One program already advancing this effort is Open Systems Interoperable and Reconfigurable Infrastructure Solution (OSIRIS) with the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSDR&E) and the U.S. Marine Corps. The OSIRIS program is leveraging Lockheed Martin’s extensive experience maturing vendor interoperable solutions based on open standards, such as Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN), which will enable a wide variety of composable 5G solutions tailored to any mission and platform. OSIRIS will help address the need for test facilities that enable rapid experimentation and dual-use application prototyping. The testbed will identify areas for further compatibility between 5G networks and DOD platforms that will enhance military capabilities.

OSIRIS will also enable the connection of various 5G-ready user devices, sensors, vehicles and endpoints to explore the military utility of commercial 5G technologies and pave the way for onboarding of new technologies from other OUSD investments while addressing cybersecurity requirements.

This capability will further enable and advance the DOD’s JADC2/JADO concept by bridging commercial technologies into current and future DOD capabilities.

A Whole of Industry Approach

For 5G, maturing and leveraging vendor-interoperable solutions based on open standards will enable a wide variety of composable 5G solutions tailored to any mission and platform. Dual use commercial technologies, like 5G, enable the DOD to benefit from the substantial commercial investment in development, integration, and sustainment of these technologies and standards, and focuses DOD and defense industry investment towards accelerating elements of these open standards applicable for military use.

Integration Across Platforms, Across Domains, Across the Joint Services

The military comprises a vast variety of platforms and systems that range from very old to very new. Connecting these platforms is a challenge within the individual services and becomes even more complex when integrating and connecting platforms across services. In addition, stovepiped sensors limit operational ability and can degrade our ability to operate in contested environments such as Anti-Access Area Denial bubbles. Adopting a true open systems approach to new and existing technologies will greatly assist with integrating across the joint services and eliminating stovepipes in current technology.

When we adopt this open systems approach across the services, specifically when it comes to achieving Spectrum Superiority, we can transition from being platform-centric to mission-centric. These changes will be driven not only at the hardware level but also at the software level, giving the ability to respond in a swift, lethal, and resilient method.

There is much work yet to be done in the area, from artificial intelligence and machine learning, to cognitive electronic warfare and converged sensing capabilities. The foundation is in an open systems approach. It is being proven out today, and we must continue to remove hurdles and collaborate across industry and the joint services, to achieve Spectrum Superiority and realize the vision for JADC2/JADO.