Nations around the world – from the Pacific Ocean to the Baltic Sea – are facing increasingly aggressive actions from adversarial superpowers and terrorist organizations alike.
In current and future combat operations, success requires decision-making 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.
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.
“Knowledge is power, and it is critical that the right information gets to the right person as quickly as possible,” said Chris Aebli, president of Tactical Communications, L3Harris. “Our strength is fusing domain-centric information into a single command system, so personnel receive intelligence that is relevant to their role in time to act on it. We’re committed to investing in IRAD and partnering with other agile companies to ensure our customers are always a step ahead of their adversaries.”
LEVERAGING EXPERIENCE WITH INNOVATION
L3Harris delivers state-of-the-art Command, Control, Computers, Communications, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) capabilities by leveraging decades of designing mission-critical solutions and integrating end-to-end systems alongside ongoing research and development of emerging capabilities.
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. 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, Greg Zoughbi, Business Development director, L3Harris, explained.
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.
“Modular development is a key contributing factor to feasible C5ISR advancement,” Zoughbi said. “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, Zoughbi added. An open-architecture flexible solution approach facilitates seamless subsystem integration at any time.
The key to a robust and effective C5ISR ecosystem is how 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,” Aebli said.
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.
“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,” Lisa Davidson, senior software engineering specialist, L3Harris, said. “Technology changes quickly. 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.”
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. The flexible architectures, providing backward compatibility and future-proof integration, facilitate capability expansion and new infrastructure establishment for defense organizations large and small.
“We truly embrace our customers’ requirements and strive to fully understand them, and we recommend optimal solutions as a trusted, honest technical advisor,” Zoughbi said. “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.”
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. Further, training and sovereign sustainment capabilities generally tend to be important for most nations, Zoughbi explained.
THE FUTURE OF LIGHTSPEED C5ISR
Currently, defense organizations are “drowning in data,” Zoughbi said.
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,” Zoughbi said.
Advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) 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,” Davidson said. “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 conducting several modernization efforts to close capability gaps in its current infrastructure.
Canada’s multimillion-dollar Joint Deployable Headquarters Signal Regiment Modernization (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,” Aebli said. “Coalition Joint All-Domain Command-and-Control ecosystems are crucial to enabling that. The research and development we are conducting today in applicable technology innovation supports our customers’ modernization efforts so that they are ready for the next challenge.”