Disaggregated/Networked multi-domain force design enables adapt/create unpredictable, resilient operational compositions scalable to low-end conflicts without wasting capabilities/capacity.
“We deserve better information to the decision-maker. The information is there, somewhere. We’re just not getting it in the right hands at the right speed.”
MDO reflects how smaller force structure elements can be rearranged into many different configurations or force presentations design employs many diverse, disaggregated platforms in collaboration with current forces to craft an operational system. Functional capabilities hosted on a common platform like a combat aircraft, such as radar, fire control, and missiles, can now be disaggregated into their smallest practical pieces.
MDO is a force design that combines the attributes of highly capable systems with the volume and agility afforded by smaller force elements that can be rearranged into many different configurations or presentations.
MDO coordinated system is made possible by the use of advanced networks, data links, and enablers that employ automation and artificial intelligence/machine learning to connect its disparate capabilities,.
MDO leverages the dynamic relationship between force structure and operational concepts—means and ways—to regain offensive initiative against enemy systems warfare. Said another way, a traditional approach to dealing with emerging threats is to devise new, more effective ways to use existing military forces, or acquire new capabilities that will improve a military’s ability to perform its missions. The MDO concept does both.
MDO force builds upon current investment in important, highly capable systems to yield smaller, more numerous, disaggregated elements. Disaggregated elements may network together to create a coherent operational system in partnership with highly capable system platforms.
Systems warfare strategies target data links and their nodes to collapse the effectiveness of a system. In a MDO force, there are no single points of failure, no single data link, no universal standard, no one type of waveform on which enemies can concentrate. This is the point of functional decomposition.
The key to MDO design is the quantity and the composition of the nodes it can create in an area of operation. Disaggregated elements contribute to system resiliency, because their loss represents the loss of only one function and not the many functions of a highly capable, traditional platform.
Networked together, disaggregated elements can create out-sized value to the force The larger system functionality continues even when attrition occurs, since there is no single node or small set of nodes whose loss will collapse the entire system. Disaggregation also expands the number of potential kill paths, posing a targeting problem to an adversary.
“We should be able to, with this level of technology, what I’m seeing in my carrier should be available in the Maritime Operations Center MOC in real time so that when a fleet commander hears instructions like , ‘these are my intentions and I’m engaging here,’ the commander can look at it and go, absolutely, and I’m moving this or that or whatever the case may be to support you.
Military has thousands of soldiers distributed across the battlefield, thousands of vehicles. That requires a very different scale of networking and AI than connecting smaller numbers of more expensive platforms, from Navy warships to Air Force jets to even Special Operations teams.
“We have to have the ability for that operator, when he looks at that track, to have confidence, whether it’s coming from an unmanned vehicle 200 miles away, that it’s the same thing they’re seeing on a cruiser.
That data needs to be readily available across the network so when he tells commander that he wants certain targets hit, or others to be left alone, everyone involved from the top of the command chain to the bottom understands what is happening, and what may or may not be a threat.
Requirement for integrated combat system gives common operating picture to leaders at sea and ashore, as well as integrate in information from different kinds of sensors and use that to support both hard-kill and soft-kill responses from the Navy.
Navy is making progress linking sensors and other sources of intelligence and data, lethal and nonlethal countermeasures and a range of levels of command.
Navy is making integration of ships, planes, sensors and weapons a priority going forward and is in the requirements-writing stage of development an integrated combat system.
“It’s every ship, it’s every radar, it’s every airplane, it’s every weapon. And if we don’t optimize every one of them, the margin of victory is so slim right now we risk defeat. That’s how leaders are approaching strike group command, and pushing team to develop the requirements for an integrated combat system.
All those leaders, from the cruiser to the strike group to the fleet commander, should also have a level of awareness that extends to what sensor is doing the tracking and therefore what its limitations might be; and what weapon is most appropriate to go after the threat, so it’s effective but not wasting a costly high-end weapon to defeat a less-capable target.
While leaders at sea might have access to this information, those at the Maritime Operations Center Maritime Operations Center MOC ashore see a lag in getting those details. Navy wants everyone at all levels to have access to the same information in real time “so we can make good, sensible decisions and husband our weapons wisely against the threat. Or not react at all, if that’s the most prudent case, depending on the mission.”
Challenges to Multi Domain Operations include linking disparate communication and information networks to share targeting data and communications. This stuff is not there yet. It's less about the platforms, We have got to have the communication architecture. All the ability to do that is there, whether that’s secure waveforms or the Radio Frequency RF Links, but we have to go out and experiment right now.
"Pentagon Experiments Trying To Link Everything on the Battlefield Using Multi-Domain Operations Concepts"
Experiment by experiment, the company is weaving aircraft, ground vehicles, satellites, and the rest into a network that will someday give commanders unprecedented decision-support options.
The Pentagon’s efforts to digitally connect everything on the battlefield has a big challenge to overcome: getting disparate vehicles and weapons to share data.
“The interoperability of various, different systems, that’s really where we are struggling. We don’t have that machine to machine connection to begin with.”
Over the past several years, we’ve been working to build those connections, piece by piece and plane by plane. We started by asking, “How would we go fight in 2030, 2045?” and then working backwards.
There are efforts underway to link the stealthy F-22 and F-35 combat jets. The Air Force has announced that they are to test a similar link next month, but the Air Force is establishing more complete linkages, including new forms of secure radio linkages using software defined radio, and also including other assets such as drones.
Experiment by experiment, we tried to “systematically work” to build the components of a larger network of networks.
Ultimately, we want all this to add up to a “virtualized cloud-based architecture like the branches of a tree. A handful of ships and planes might form one network. That will, in turn, connect to a larger network that would, in turn, would be connected to the larger network.
“You end up with virtual networks on the edge with a computing architecture you could have on an aircraft, on a ship, or any of the deployed nodes..
Bringing all these pieces together will enable a new sort of operating system for warfare, a new experimental battle management display to illustrate the concept.
The system presents the operator with a list of effects, from devastating explosions to a quiet disabling of some enemy system; a list of available assets, including planes or drones; a map of targets; and recommendations for the best way to deliver effects to targets.
As circumstances change — fuel gets low, ammunition is depleted, targets are destroyed, new enemy forces arrive, etc. — the system can send out alerts that a new plan is needed — or automatically update the plan with new instructions for pilots and drone operators. It all depends on how high the operator wants to set the autonomy.
A run-through of “what we need to win” includes the amphibious force, the submarine force, mine warfare and mine countermeasures communities, combat logistics and more. While much effort has been put into creating and strengthening the Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air structure for the carrier strike group force, other communities in the Navy have been left out of previous efforts.
“We are going to do things differently, we are going to do things in a completely netted environment. … We have the weaponry to go a lot farther than we’re able to do because of the sensors.
Priorities include long-range targeting, which will require these netted sensors; a universal common operating picture and combat logistics.
Air Force is preparing an experiment it hopes will link the F-22 and F-35 fighter jets, the first in a series of experiments dubbed “connect-a-thons.”
The goal is to identify a fleet of aircraft with a communications issue, invite voices from inside and outside the Pentagon to offer solutions, and then test those offerings in a live experiment.
The F-22 was built with an older data link that can’t match up with the Multifunction Advanced Data Link system used on the newer F-35; while the F-35 can receive data , it can’t share the data back — a key capability given the envisioned role of the F-35 as a major sensor for the future Air Force.
For the test, the service will use a “universal translator” for the two jets. The first test, will feature the equipment on a pole on a test range, with the jets pinging their information back and forth from that fixed location.
It’s not the first time a drone has been used as a link between the two fighters. Global Hawk unmanned system, equipped with a new radio has been designed to act as a translator between the aircraft. A cloud-based common operational picture that tracks where friendly forces are and displays a map of their constantly updated positions.
Why is this so difficult? As stealth aircraft whose whole raison d’être is to evade detection, the F-22 and F-35 would rather not use conventional radios to communicate in combat because the transmissions are too easy for an enemy to pick up.
So both jets use so-called Low Probability of Detection/Low Probability of Interception communications – but they each use different ones that operate on different frequencies with incompatible software. F-22s use a unique Intra-Flight Data Link that works only with other F-22s, while the newer F-35s use the Multifunction Advanced Data Link , which can only talk to other F-35s.
Of course, realtime data sharing across platforms isn’t a simple or clear-cut affair, even after successful experimentation. It’s hard to simply to share data between operators and just one platform. The challenges of sharing data between multiple platforms, in the middle of battle in a highly contested airspace, are far larger.
1. As a force design, multi-domain operations provides guiding principles for developing operational concepts and future technologies, conducting operational planning, presenting forces, and commanding and controlling them in real-world operations.
2. It is expected that elements of a multi-domain force will mature at different paces, resulting in their gradual integration into the force instead of creating a hard delivery, sudden, sweeping force transformation.
3. Multi-domain force design concept will encourage the development of new, highly interoperable capabilities designed to speed through the acquisition system.
4. Multi-domain force is less about “what” a new system is and more about how it will behave within a broader enterprise. Swarms of expendable systems may be a design element of a future force design, as will other weapon systems and concepts.
5. The plan will create a heterogenous mix of many different types of elements, functions, and capabilities that can collaborate in unexpected ways to complicate an adversary’s planning and targeting.
6. As multi-domain force elements are fielded, they will change how highly capable platforms are employed, further enhancing their value and effectiveness.
7. Multi-domain offers an alternative to creating a single architecture or standard through diversity, complexity, and resilience.
8. Imposing a unitary requirement on every platform in a combat zone is costly, results in the procurement of systems that are quickly obsolete, and allows competitors to understand and adapt to new systems quickly.
9. Multi-domain will require systems to be interoperable, but this requirement does not require a single standard. Using many different types of data links, waveforms, and message formats will increase the resiliency of networks.
10. Multi-domain is not a tightly integrated system of systems where the failure of one system could impede the development of others or collapse the whole architecture