Multi-domain operations require system-of-systems approach to engineering and integration

Joint All Domain Operations (JADO) is the military’s approach to ensure that all forces can operate together seamlessly across air, space, sea, land and cyberspace to achieve information and decision advantage over rising adversaries.

With multiple capabilities spanning across the JADO footprint, the key to success is knowing how to create and implement an architecture to ensure connectivity across existing, disparate missions and infrastructure. This network will introduce the right level of decision support capability to help operators turn information into action. To make this happen, the government will need large-scale systems integrators to play a key role in developing and maintaining these solutions that enable the JADO mission.

JADO and its Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) concept identifies critical needs for a multi-domain network that utilizes a unified architectural approach. This means that the Defense community must move from treating each platform, sensor and weapon as a separate system, and develop the tools and expertise to view the whole as an integrated System of Systems (SoS) that includes sensors, decision makers and weapons or other effects.

Success in a JADO environment requires the seamless interoperation of multiple capabilities (four corners of the above graphic) across domains, services, and missions. System Integration capabilities such as digital engineering will help create and maintain the architecture to enable this success.

A comprehensive digital engineering environment built on industry-leading model-based systems engineering (MBSE) tools will be critical in architecting Systems of Systems to meet JADO/JADC2 needs. Using these tools, SoS engineering experts from systems integration companies will provide systems architecture, requirements specification, and integration for complex systems of systems across the joint force. Applying these digital engineering technologies to SoS integration also enables processes for defining and establishing baselines, operational needs, requirements and design — then verifying and validating throughout the process. They also assist the government in developing and maintaining agile environments with modular open architectures. These architectures allow new technologies from many sources to be easily plugged into the SoS to meet new or evolving mission needs without the government making costly and time-consuming changes to the architecture.

Digital SoS testbeds, combining MBSE with low-, medium- and high-fidelity modeling and simulation capabilities, will support the U.S. government in defining the right architecture and way of employing future systems, and in verifying that those systems perform as required in a much wider range of scenarios than can be exercised in live field tests.

One example of where a SoS integrator can supply significant value is in helping to align and manage interfaces and architectures across the diversity of command and control systems employed by the military. For example, the Navy operates many classes of ships: Aircraft carriers, amphibious assault ships, cruisers, destroyers, smaller combat vessels and an increasing number of unmanned surface vessels (USVs). Each has a command and control system, typically referred to as a Combat System or Combat Management System (CMS), designed for the needs of that type of vessel. The Navy is discussing moving to a common CMS software baseline that could function as the Combat System for all vessel types.  This would have a common core that would be used on all vessels, with a library of modules that could be incorporated to implement specific functions unique to a class of ships or common to only a few classes, such as interfacing with a specific sensor or weapon, communication network, or commanding manned or unmanned aircraft or watercraft carried by the larger vessel. Each function entails one or more interfaces to other systems that typically were developed and maintained by another contractor. This means that the CMS will need to accommodate scores and likely hundreds of interfaces. If not carefully managed, this complexity can lead to unanticipated incompatibilities that can cost time and resources to correct, or worse, result in a loss of warfighting capabilities.

An experienced SoS integrator can do three critical things to help prevent this. First, using MBSE tools to model the CMS software requirements, architecture and all its interfaces, the integrator can identify dependencies on other systems and alert when changes to those systems may impact the CMS and require changes. Second, it can use the MBSE tools to construct largely automated testing procedures to ensure that CMS updates will remain compatible with new or updated sensors or other external systems. Finally, they can help the government align requirements and architectures across the various ships so that over time they can eliminate unnecessary complexity and duplication.

It will be critical for the government to partner with SoS integrators to use and benefit from breakthrough digital engineering capabilities. This in turn will allow the government to maintain control over the SoS architecture and design – the technical baseline – while also enabling them to easily adapt and extend capabilities to address new mission needs arising from the increasingly complex and challenging world we face.

Steve Jameson is director and solution architect for BAE Systems Intelligence & Security.

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