Empire Challenge’ Promotes Intelligence Interoperability

WASHINGTON, May 27, 2011 — A hand­held device that would give new intel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance and recon­nais­sance capa­bil­i­ties to warfight­ers and an air­frame equipped with “plug and play” sen­sors are among new tech­nolo­gies being test­ed dur­ing U.S. Joint Forces Command’s Empire Chal­lenge 2011 demon­stra­tion.
The demon­stra­tion kicked off May 23 and con­tin­ues through June 3, bring­ing togeth­er more than 2,000 par­tic­i­pants world­wide in a live, joint and coali­tion ISR inter­op­er­abil­i­ty demon­stra­tion, John Kit­tle, Empire Chal­lenge project man­ag­er, told reporters yes­ter­day.

The annu­al exer­cise show­cas­es emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies and pro­vides lessons learned to improve intel­li­gence col­lec­tion and analy­sis and test bet­ter ways to get it out to warfight­ers who need it. 

The demonstration’s three pri­or­i­ty objec­tives focus on inter­op­er­abil­i­ty between the ser­vices’ dis­trib­uted com­mon ground sys­tems and between U.S. and coali­tion part­ners, and in incor­po­rat­ing new and emerg­ing sen­sors, Kit­tle explained. 

Par­tic­i­pants from the Unit­ed States, Aus­tralia, Cana­da, Den­mark, Fin­land, France, Nether­lands, Swe­den, the Unit­ed King­dom and NATO are work­ing togeth­er on those objec­tives dur­ing Empire Chal­lenge. Almost half of them are on the ground at Fort Huachu­ca, Ariz., where teams from the Unit­ed States, Unit­ed King­dom, Cana­da and Aus­tralia are oper­at­ing along­side oth­er multi­na­tion­al part­ners among moun­tains, canyons and veg­e­ta­tion that close­ly resem­ble con­di­tions in Afghanistan. 

“This year, we’ve spread every­thing out in order to repli­cate the oper­at­ing envi­ron­ment in Afghanistan, pro­vid­ing a more real­is­tic set­ting which dri­ves real­is­tic results,” said Air Force Col. Joe McDon­ald, Joint Forces Command’s Joint Intel­li­gence Oper­a­tions Cen­ter ISR inte­gra­tion, exper­i­men­ta­tion and sys­tems inte­gra­tion chief. 

The activ­i­ties and sce­nar­ios are ramp­ing up, Kit­tle said. “We are ful­ly func­tion­al with all of our net­works and all of our sys­tems,” he added. “Lots of air­craft are fly­ing, lots of ground sen­sors are work­ing, lots of aerostats are out here col­lect­ing all of that infor­ma­tion that we are hop­ing to share among our partners.” 

As “blue” and “oppos­ing” forces on the ground con­duct sce­nar­ios based on case stud­ies direct­ly out of Afghanistan, they’re sup­port­ed by a broad range of ground and air­borne intel­li­gence-gath­er­ing platforms. 

These include aerostats, Cess­na Car­a­van air­craft, E‑8 joint sur­veil­lance tar­get attack radar sys­tems, EC-130H Com­pass Call air­borne tac­ti­cal weapon sys­tems, FASTCOM Navion air­craft, Fire­bird option­al­ly pilot­ed sys­tem, Proxy Skyraider advanced heavy pay­load manned air­craft, RQ‑4 Glob­al Hawk unmanned aer­i­al vehi­cles, ScanEa­gle unmanned air­craft sys­tems, U‑2 Drag­on Lady high-alti­tude recon­nais­sance air­craft and Desert Hawk unmanned aer­i­al system. 

Through­out the demon­stra­tion, the par­tic­i­pants will test more than 30 capa­bil­i­ties with a focus on improv­ing multi­na­tion­al inter­op­er­abil­i­ty and data shar­ing. Among them is the Army’s new “Rel­e­vant ISR to the Edge” or RITE, sys­tem. This hand­held device is equipped with var­i­ous appli­ca­tions designed to bring intel­li­gence direct­ly to troops at the brigade com­bat team lev­el and below. 

“This is what that pro­gram is real­ly try­ing to get at: get­ting tac­ti­cal­ly rel­e­vant infor­ma­tion to a sol­dier at the lead­ing edge in a hand-held device,” Kit­tle said. 

Anoth­er promis­ing new tech­nol­o­gy is based on a com­mer­cial “Fire­bird” air­frame that can oper­ate either as an unmanned drone or a pilot­ed air­craft. What’s par­tic­u­lar­ly excit­ing, Kit­tle said, is its sys­tem archi­tec­ture that enables users to switch out dif­fer­ent sen­sors or com­bi­na­tions of high­ly capa­ble sen­sors in as lit­tle as 20 minutes. 

While putting these and oth­er tech­nolo­gies to the test under real­is­tic con­di­tions, McDon­ald said a major objec­tive of Empire Chal­lenge will be to ensure capa­bil­i­ties live up to their promises. 

“There’s noth­ing like a capa­bil­i­ty arriv­ing in the­ater that says it will do A, B and C; how­ev­er, in the field they real­ize it does A and B, but C it does­n’t do at all,” he said. “We don’t want to leave young sol­diers in the field try­ing to fig­ure out how to make things work. We need to deliv­er capa­bil­i­ties that do what they say they do.” 

As the train­ing tem­po picks up at Fort Huachu­ca, live oper­a­tions also are tak­ing place at Camp Leje­une, N.C. There, the Army Research Lab and par­tic­i­pat­ing river­ine assets will test the use of a net­worked sen­sor array deployed in a mar­itime lit­toral envi­ron­ment to sup­port mar­itime sur­veil­lance, tar­get­ing, coun­ter­drug and coun­ter­pira­cy operations. 

Addi­tion­al­ly, com­put­er mod­el­ing and sim­u­la­tion and analy­sis is under way at Joint Forces Command’s Joint Intel­li­gence Lab in Suf­folk, Va.; the Com­bined Air Oper­a­tions Cen­ter-Exper­i­men­tal at Lan­g­ley Air Force Base, Va.; each service’s dis­trib­uted com­mon ground or sur­face sys­tem lab­o­ra­to­ries; and coali­tion sites in Cana­da and the Unit­ed King­dom. Intel­li­gence col­lect­ed at Fort Huachu­ca or gen­er­at­ed through com­put­er mod­el­ing and sim­u­la­tion is fed to ana­lysts at par­tic­i­pat­ing sites, who turn it around as quick­ly as possible. 

Sev­er­al days into the demon­stra­tion, Kit­tle report­ed he’s see­ing promis­ing signs that Empire Chal­lenge is pro­mot­ing data-shar­ing among coali­tion part­ners and ensur­ing new tech­nolo­gies are designed with inter­op­er­abil­i­ty in mind. 

“As things start to be devel­oped and inte­grat­ed into the mil­i­tary ser­vices, we try to ensure that the infor­ma­tion they pro­duce is inter­op­er­a­ble with all those oth­er sys­tems and that those sys­tems can mature and hope­ful­ly be field­ed in the short amount of time,” he said. 

A broad range of U.S. orga­ni­za­tions and agen­cies are sup­port­ing this year’s Empire Chal­lenge. They include the office of the under­sec­re­tary of defense for intel­li­gence, the Joint Staff Intel­li­gence Direc­torate, the Defense Intel­li­gence Agency, the Nation­al Geospa­tial-Intel­li­gence Agency, the Nation­al Recon­nais­sance Office, the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency, the ser­vices and U.S. Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Command. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefence.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →