Nations around the world – from the Pacific Ocean to the Baltic Sea – are facing increasingly aggressive actions from adversarial superpowers and terrorist organizations alike, from shows of force to direct attacks.
In current and future combat operations, success requires decision advantage over the enemy – the ability to gather information from multiple assets and domains, synthesize it to actionable intelligence and send it to the appropriate personnel so they can quickly counter threats and defend assets.
For example, if the only buffer between a nation and an adversary is a 100-kilometer stretch of water, improvised explosives via unmanned surface or marine vessels is a serious concern; a strong Joint All-Domain Command-and-Control (JADC2) infrastructure facilitates the identification of threats from multiple sources in a timely manner with robust and easily understandable intelligence. This reduces margins of uncertainty, giving operators increased confidence in decision making and achieving the desired operational effects, according to Greg Zoughbi, L3Harris Technologies Business Development director.
Countries large and small are monitoring escalating conflicts in their immediate and broader areas of interest and are reflecting on their readiness to protect their own borders.
“We are already witnessing 'trailers' of future conflicts,” said Indian Army chief Gen. Manoj Mukund Naravne when Speaking at Pragyan Conclave at the Centre for Land Warfare Studies in Delhi earlier this year. “They are being enacted daily on the information battlefield, in the networks and cyber space. They are also being played along our yet unsettled and active borders.”
The “science fiction of yesterday is the reality of today,” the general continued, emphasizing the need for militaries to “leap-frog” technology to meet the requirements of future wars.
L3Harris delivers state-of-the-art C5ISR capabilities, which are scalable to need and modular for future growth, by leveraging decades of designing mission-critical solutions and integrating end-to-end systems based on strong customer engagement and collaboration.
“Knowledge is power, and it is critical that the right information gets to the right person as quickly as possible when seconds count,” said Chris Aebli, president of L3Harris' Tactical Communications business. “Our strength is fusing domain-centric information into a single command system, so personnel receive intelligence that is relevant to their role, and in time to act on it.”
When integrating systems for customers, quality of intelligence and information, ease-of-use and the ability to deploy at a moment’s notice are foremost concerns, according to Zoughbi. When – or where – the next conflict will erupt cannot be accurately predicted, so user information overload, and the ability to automatically generate intelligence from this information, is a paramount concern at any time.
Further, while decision advantage is a priority for every nation, no two countries’ needs or budgets are the same. As such, L3Harris tailors its offerings to meet the unique requirements of specific customers – from less-complex, “message-only” command-and-control systems to larger, full-fledged C5ISR systems. This enables L3Harris to ensure that its solutions are tailored for specific country mission needs, and therefore best value.
“Modular development is a key contributing factor to feasible C5ISR advancement,” said Lisa Davidson, L3Harris senior Software Engineering specialist. “You don’t have to do everything at once, but if you have a modular product that’s interoperable with other systems, then you can upgrade in stages, making it more affordable, testable and deployable.”
C5ISR networks are very complex and continuously evolving, and L3Harris’ strategy recognizes that customers will need to replace and enhance various components throughout the years, added Zoughbi; this open-architecture flexible solution approach facilitates seamless subsystem integration at any time.
The key to a robust and effective C5ISR ecosystem is how the disparate technologies interoperate to push data – where it needs to be – to form actionable intelligence and enable informed decision making – not the individual products themselves.
“We look at what customers have and what their requirements are, and we develop a way forward for them to create a C5ISR system from what they have, with the ability to incrementally update and take advantage of new technologies moving forward,” said Aebli.
L3Harris makes a concerted effort to facilitate customization into its system integration designs. The baseline capability inherently provides modularity and interoperability to connect all the customer’s data-gathering systems together, even when creating new schemas and mapping to legacy information is required, according to Davidson.
“This allows the customer to pick the best suite of products to include in this system of systems without the dependency of having one product not being able to communicate with another,” said Davidson. “Technology changes quickly – there’s always a better radio, a better Electronic Warfare system, better everything, coming out. When there is a modular system-of-systems architecture, it becomes a lot easier to upgrade to the newer generation of solutions, enabling you to always stay up to date.”
The experience L3Harris brings in system integration well positions the company to leverage and share information amongst disparate solutions – be they third-party or commercial-off-the-shelf – and present them on one display, according to Davidson; “it’s about getting all the pieces together and leveraging their best-of-breed capabilities.”
As a trusted technology disruptor for nations around the world, L3Harris leverages an enterprise-wide suite of solutions to design and deploy scalable and tailorable end-to-end C5ISR systems that propel timely success for its customers. The flexible architectures, providing backward compatibility and future-proof integration, facilitate capability expansion and new infrastructure establishment for defense organizations, large and small.
In the Arabian Gulf region, L3Harris partners with an in-country defense firm to modernize the nation’s ground-force C4I capabilities. A key element of this partnership is that L3Harris was able to integrate communication systems, ruggedized networking, displayed, computing and other equipment from over half of a dozen companies, some of which were directed by the customer, according to Zoughbi.
“We truly embrace our customers’ requirements and strive to fully understand them, and we recommend optimal solutions as a trusted, honest technical advisor,” said Zoughbi. “On the enterprise systems side, it is key to integrate all information coming from various sensors, filter it and project the pertinent intelligence into an operation center with an intuitive interface.”
This particular enterprise system is role-based and provides each user a specific interface based on their location, role and daily tasks, according to Davidson. The company solicited user feedback on what types of information each user role needed, what activities are time consuming for them, and what process can be improved upon to create a common, easy-to-use interface that is uniquely tailored for each specific user.
Elsewhere in the Middle East, L3Harris is providing a C4I system as part of a nation’s effort to implement enhanced battlefield management and ISR solutions across its ground, air and naval forces. The L3Harris C4I system provides the customer with initial operational capabilities and will integrate its Falcon III® radios to deliver network-centric communications for superior command and control.
In the Pacific, the Australian Defence Force continues its strong partnership with L3Harris Technologies, recently awarding the company contracts totaling $233 million to deliver secure communications and advanced night vision goggle technology to support the country’s key modernization initiatives.
As part of the programs, L3Harris will deliver tactical radios, waveforms and ancillaries that support emerging cryptographic modernization standards as well as advanced night vision goggle technology, improving soldiers’ situational awareness, mobility and safety.
Both contracts include full in-country support and repair capabilities in Australia and follow the company’s successful delivery of night vision technology for Tranche 1 of the Land 53 program in 2020.
The L3Harris Communications Logistics Centre provides the Australian Army with in-country customer support, thereby significantly reducing lead-in times for maintenance, repair and overhaul of equipment. The 9,300-square-meter facility in Brisbane is equipped to support classified work; ongoing work includes sustainment of the Army’s inventory of legacy tactical radios and VSAT terminals.
This means radios and other equipment do not need to be repatriated to the United States for repair, providing a more-responsive capability to support any urgent operating requirements of the Australian Army.
“We partner with our customers to develop their local defense capabilities, and we then look for opportunities to include them in our supply chain,” said Zoughbi. “Each country has its own sovereign capability development needs, which are dependent on the country’s overall development vision, strategy and population demographics.”
L3Harris has found increasing employment rates to be a larger factor in more populous nations, whereas smaller nations today place increased importance on acquiring intellectual property and developing niche technology capabilities, such as artificial intelligence, added Zoughbi. Further, training and sovereign sustainment capabilities generally tend to be important for most nations.
“Despite this, we are often requested to ensure that L3Harris remains involved to provide the reliability and confidence that our mission-critical customers require,” said Zoughbi. “We base our localization strategy on the customer’s national priorities, and we use that as a competitive advantage in winning new business and extending our partnerships.”
The Future of Lightspeed C5ISR
Currently, defense organizations are “drowning in data,” said Zoughbi. Tactical networks simply cannot support the amounts of raw data collected across the battlespace in an efficient manner. Further, incompatible systems require operators to manually manage information transfers, reducing their ability to focus on decision making.
“Decisions that need to be made in seconds require systems that operate at the speed of light – not the speed of the human brain,” said Zoughbi.
Advances in Artificial Intelligence are key to further reducing system inefficiencies and operator workload within C5ISR systems, according to Davidson. AI can identify common patterns, create suggested patterns and reduce human error.
“AI is the future, especially as more capabilities and operators are connected,” said Davidson. “It’s crucial for any country to be able to predict threats and put pieces together in a more meaningful way and react to the threats as quickly as possible.”
Proper Prior Planning
Even countries without immediate threats to their borders are evaluating their force postures for sovereign and coalition protection. This includes Canada, which is underway on several modernization efforts to close capability gaps in its current infrastructure.
“Limitations based on incompatibility of systems, inadequacy of data bearers, reliance on manual data entry and communications, and unfriendly user interfaces form the basis for the increasing inability of the [Canadian Armed Forces] deployable C2 system to function effectively, support the C2 cycle, as well as work with its joint and coalition partners,” said Maj. Xavier Dubois, the Canadian Army’s Joint Deployable Headquarters Signal Regiment Modernization (JDHQSRM) project director, last year at an industry day when discussing potential obsolescence concerns within the CAF’s communications and information systems.
Canada’s multimillion-dollar JDHQSRM program is one of many global examples of armed forces preparing for the unknown by enhancing its ability to relay data across the echelons for more-informed decision-making.
“When the next large-scale conflict comes, fighting with on-demand ISR information will be critical in winning the fight,” said Aebli. “Coalition Joint All-Domain Command-and-Control ecosystems are crucial to enabling that.”