Qinetiq, acting as consortium lead, has delivered the Cursor on Target (CoT) project, a demonstration of network enabled tactical communications between different friendly forces, in a joint networked air-land (NAiL) environment.
This Network Enabled Capability (NEC) demonstration was commissioned by the MOD Capability Manager (Information Superiority), managed by the MOD Air Command and Control Systems (ACCS) IPT and supported by the US National Reconnaissance Office.
The delivery partnership also included Front Line UK and NATO Commands, DSTL, General Dynamics (UK), SAIC/VTC and US Allies and linked ‘sensors to deciders and effectors’ to deliver a number of tactical combat scenarios. These were played out in real time and included suppression of enemy air defences, close air support and air power show of force.
The exercise, with live air and ground military manoeuvres, took place on military ranges managed by Qinetiq for the MOD. Qinetiq claims that not only was a step change increase in in-flight aircrew situational awareness achieved but aircrews also believe that the improved battlespace situational awareness will reduce exposure to hostile air defence.
Red and Blue Force positional data from US and UK ISTAR assets and tracking systems, including Blue Force situational awareness provided by the UK Bowman system, was datalinked to ground based radio receivers linked into a Qinetiq network emulating the MOD Defence Information Infrastructure (DII).
All data inputs were converted to the COT XML standard to enable full ‘machine-to-machine’ information exchange and delivery to battle commanders using the in service US Joint Automated Deep Operations Co-ordination System (JADOCS).
This system has coalition-proven functionality and is being further evaluated by NATO. Battle commanders were then able to ‘smart push’ a digital target/effects ‘mission package’ to two Tornado GR4 combat aircraft, for display on their navigator’s display units, enabling them to be made aware of the battle picture and take appropriate action.
By transmitting the UK/US positional data contained within the mission package via a secure NATO standard ‘9-line brief’ data burst message, Qinetiq was able to deliver all the situational awareness the aircrew believed was needed to assess the mission situation.
The messages were each transferred in seconds, having been formulated using Variable Message Format (VMF) and digitally encrypted, to the prototype Tornado GR4 Integrated Targeting System via tactical datalink radios. The data remained digital throughout the process from sensing, through integration, to downloading into the GR4 navigation/attack system, which placed the ‘Cursor over the Target’. An image of the target/effects area was transmitted to the GR4 aircraft and presented on their tactical displays, a network enabled first.
The Tornado aircrew, using Qinetiq-developed technology, were also able to command a ‘smart pull’ of positional information when it suited their in-flight mission management and cockpit workload.