NEWS | Jan. 19, 2011

Information dominance at SSC Atlantic

By Susan Piedfort SSC Atlantic public affairs

SPAWAR Systems Center Atlantic was recently the site of an Office of Naval Research sponsored technology development and experimentation project designed to deliver information dominance to warfighters.

The Combat Systems to Command and Control Limited Technology Experiment acts as data exchange technology development and experimentation to provide a two-way information exchange between Combat Systems and C2 Systems, giving warfighters informed and rapid decision making capabilities.

The desired tactical environment for warfighters is one in which there is rapid movement of data that allows immediate connection of any sensor to any weapon. Currently data movement between systems and platforms remains largely a manual process using voice, chat and other capabilities. To achieve information dominance, joint and Navy sensors, combat systems and tactical platforms must be rapidly and effectively integrated to automate the movement of data between Combat and C2 systems. Connecting these networks is but one objective of the experimentation. This effort is especially important as more autonomous systems are introduced at the tactical level requiring integration across the joint force.

The second objective of the CS/C2 LTE is to bridge acquisition gaps that exist between the program executive officer, Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence - who delivers Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services and Distributed Common Ground Station Navy Program Executive Officer, Integrated Weapons Systems, who delivers AEGIS combat systems and associated weapons systems, enabling programs of record and military services.

The way things have been interconnected in the acquisition community is unique because the many systems are owned by different entities, explained ONR's Wayne Perras, who was in Charleston to coordinate the diverse teams performing the experimentation.

While ONR does leading edge science and technology research to provide the best products to warfighters, "you can't just drop them into the production line," Mr. Perras said. "What we are doing is taking disparate products, all developed at different points using ONR funding, and we're using the engineering expertise of SSC Atlantic as well as NAVSEA Warfare Centers to integrate them all to work as a system of systems."

Besides providing the physical space for experimentation utilizing the command's Enterprise Engineering to Certification construct - inside building 3112's Enterprise Command and Control lab where the Advanced Composable Environment Prototype Cloud hosting environment leveraged CANES ACS V1.1 and associated SOA infrastructure - SSC Atlantic provides the 'application layer' and the 'network layer' by delivering enterprise software integration, systems engineering and technical expertise. SSC Pacific is providing the 'communications layer' via satellite connection through the E2C to the Land Based Test Facility to three actual EHF-TIP terminals, which gives the team a clear understanding of how their systems work in the actual satellite communications environment that ships use and is representative of a Range of Warfare Command and Control warfare type environment. "That is key since we don't want to add artificiality to the experiment," Mr. Perras said.

For six months prior to coming to SSC Atlantic, the 'TEAM ONR' architected a system of systems to bring a variety of software components together to address a functional mission thread, analyzed enormous amounts of data to generate a data collection and analysis plan, and detailed engineering notes on how to best adopt and adapt the mostly open source software products that they are using to fit the objective of the military environment. The 10-day period of experimentation in Charleston was the culmination of those months of effort. Data analysis will be completed and reports will be delivered to the two PEOs and ONR. These reports will document analysis results, insights and recommendations as well as engineering lessons learned to support both acquisition and technology development efforts.

"This is a terrific team at SSC Atlantic," Mr. Perras said, who explained that this phase of the experiment shows the movement of data from combat systems to the C2 network. The next step, moving data from the C2 network back to Combat Systems, takes place in FY11. "I've been so impressed with the SSC Atlantic team that I've already asked them to take part in the next step of the experimentation," he added.

"SSC Atlantic is a great place to do this experiment ... the physical location and facilities, the talent here and the team," Mr. Perras said. "Look at these people," he added, pointing to a table with 20 people working together. "They are all from different places ... contractors, civilians from different agencies; they came from all over the place, and they are working together as a team to achieve a goal."

"What this means to the warfighter is that C2 applications and users will be automatically given more relevant timely information from the CS to allow the watch standers 'Reduced Uncertainty' as they make C2 decisions faster at 'increased OPTEMPO' as would be expected in the time of war," said Trey Oats, 534 chief engineer, who is heading up the SSC Atlantic team participating in the experimentation.

"Using our SSC Atlantic ACE prototype cloud computing node provided for this experimentation gives us 'on-demand' capability using about 120 virtual servers across four virtual networks representing three ship-sets," explained Bob Rozar of 534, IPT lead for the effort. "It allows flexibility to dynamically reconfigure more efficiently with less loss in production for our sponsors which saves them resources and would not be possible with a typical physical infrastructure," Trey added.

"In our matrix organization we can draw people from different competencies and skill sets, and share expertise across a lot of efforts," Mr. Rozar continued. "For example, we have engineers from 5.2 Net-Centric Engineering and Integration, from 5.3 Command and Control and 5.5 Communication and Networks Competencies ... we can bring experts in, exercise their knowledge, skills and abilities across the command and set up a world class experimentation environment - the CAO/IPT structure facilitates that."

While all this is going on, Perras is already starting to coordinate the requirements, objectives and resources for the second phase of the experimentation. ONR will bring in multi-service tactical partners from CERDEC to represent the U.S. Army, AFRL and AOC WS to represent the U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Marine Corps along with the U.S. Navy to conduct a Joint CS/C2 LTE to exchange C2 data across tactical enclaves and units leveraging a convergence of SOA infrastructures based on Open Standards, Open Specifications and well defined patterns and practices. After all the data analysis on this phase is completed in Jan. 2011, experimentation reports will be delivered to the ONR, PEO IWS and PEO C4I.

"Team SPAWAR's mission is to make the Navy's Information Dominance vision a reality," SPAWARSYSCOM Commander Rear Adm. Patrick Brady said recently. "It is our job to provide our warfighters the technology to succeed in the operational environment."

Efforts such as the ONR Code 31-sponsored FY10 CS/C2 LTE data exchange technology development and experimentation are helping SPAWAR lead the charge to turn the CNO's information dominance vision into a reality for the Navy. The FY11 Joint CS/C2 LTE will bring in multi-service partners who operate in the Tactical Disconnected Intermittent and Low Bandwidth environment such as the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines.