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The Internet of Military Things Can Help Defeat Threats

The Internet of Military Things Can Help Defeat Threats
  • Advanced technologies better connect the military by increasing networks and helping the military stay agile.
  • Digital transformation is forcing a change in approach; A combined force, a more connected force, is needed to defeat the threats of today and tomorrow.
  • Northrop Grumman is preparing to help its customers transform military operations with the Military Internet of Things.

Over the decades across the aerospace and defense industry, companies have created individual defense capabilities, such as a new aircraft, based on the mission needs of their designated military customers. Developing these capabilities means creating hardware and software that is unique to this system and unique to the manufacturer.

While this process has resulted in the Army receiving highly advanced capabilities, excellent at performing the intended task or mission, it has also resulted in programs that have locked the customer into the same resource for sustainability and modernization for decades.

Evolving technologies are constantly changing this paradigm and changing the business of defense and national security. This digital transformation paves the way for delivering what the military needs – rapidly developing new capabilities to meet changing threats.

Changing battlefield

The modern battlefield is a complex place, over which planes, satellites and unmanned aircraft fly; Command positions, ground forces, radar and missile defense systems are below; Perhaps ships lined up off the coast and submarines at sea.

All of these military systems and tools need to communicate effectively if defense personnel are to easily collaborate on missions. But militaries around the world have traditionally developed proprietary, incompatible networks and systems—even within individual branches.

A comprehensive military concept called Joint Across All Command and Control, or JADC2, is poised to dramatically change the picture. It calls for all sensors – such as radars and antennas – to be connected to communications systems across all military branches and to share their information on a single network known as the Military Internet of Things (IoMT). By enabling secure data sharing and unleashing the power of artificial intelligence, IoMT will transform battlefield operations into an integrated unit capable of making rapid, information-driven decisions.

“The military IoT is the way of the future,” said Scott Stabb, chief technology officer of Northrop Grumman. “It will greatly improve the effectiveness of military operations.”

Commercial progress now leads to military progress

For most of our lives, we have benefited from the transition of military technology from the military to the world of commerce. Examples abound – from radars separating our cars safely on the highway to GPS helping us navigate a new city to processing chips in our mobile phones. These technologies started in the military and are now essential to our daily lives; This was the traditional path of high technology.

“You can connect to your finances online, your tax records, your health records. You can share information with your doctors right away, and everything is connected,” Stabb said. “It’s all about dramatically increasing the flow of data, including voice and data communications.”

This ubiquitous connection is not yet available to the military, which means that the Defense Forces are not as connected or capable as they could be.

“The army was not set up like that,” Stubb added. “It was formed as individual branches.” “So sharing and learning what this data can do to improve mission capability is a key goal in the development of the military IoT.”

According to Stubb, Northrop Grumman is committed to making sure that it develops the capabilities of individual military branches, is network friendly from the start and optimized to talk to as many other systems as possible as appropriate.

“You’ll start to see, in military technology, the connection that we have at home,” Stabb said. “I recently installed a home theater to compare two great systems. One has better sound quality, while the other is seamlessly connected to my network. I chose the other because I appreciated the better connection.”

future theater test

As it continues to build capabilities within the IoMT to be open and interoperable, Northrop Grumman is also developing secure, interconnected command and control networks that bring all of these things together. Previous military exercises involving the US Army’s Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS) and missile defense system demonstrate how the company’s interface technology is making a critical difference on the battlefield.

In the test, a mock cruise missile was fired, and it was instantly detected by a US Marines radar system made by Northrop Grumman and an F-35 fighter jet. The sensors were deliberately jammed and therefore could not independently determine the target, but upon receiving signals from other assets through the IBCS connective tissue, the system launched a surface-to-air missile that successfully shot down the alternate flight.

Just a few short seconds of shared communication made the difference between success and failure.

“Normally these military systems don’t talk to each other,” Stabb said. “Because they did, one system that lost its eyes and ears was able to use its weapon thanks to the mesh provided by our engineers.”

Northrop Grumman is also developing a family of reprogrammable wireless communications systems that will allow the US Air Force to share intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information over a single network. The family of open architecture, software-defined Freedom Radio, continually incorporates third-party innovations that not only help enhance the flow of information across the Department of Defense, but will provide the enhanced state awareness capabilities needed, said Gina Backstice, Vice President, Communications Solutions Business Unit at Northrop Grumman. To maintain a strategic advantage in the era of technology-based conflict.

“Adaptable radios, plug-in powered gateways, and gates allow us to get the right data for the right user at the right time, and these systems are well positioned to help make the Internet of Things (IoMT) a reality for men and women in uniform,” Paukstis added.

Make better decisions with artificial intelligence

Northrop Grumman is expanding defensive capabilities with artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms, which ingest and interpret massive amounts of information much faster than humans can do, resulting in faster and better decisions. A coordinated response by AI also conserves firepower, coordinating operations in the heat of battle so that multiple weapon systems don’t all fire at the same target simultaneously.

“If you have hundreds of missiles coming toward your base, a human will never be able to tell which one to target at any given time, but AI can,” Stabb said.

On a more advanced level, future AI systems will enable experimental and unmanned systems to share intelligence and act independently when necessary.

High-power computing in small spaces

“Artificial intelligence requires huge computing power and server farms for storage, but in the military you don’t have that luxury,” Stabb said. “You need to shrink a thousand computers to the size of an airplane or a satellite.”

Northrop Grumman is solving the problem by leveraging the processing power of existing chips while collaborating with universities to advance lightning-fast quantum computing for the future. In the meantime, it has devised effective data pre-processing techniques that eliminate noise and provide details critical to mission success.

“A fighter jet collects terabytes of radar data. Preprocessing reduces it to an actionable kilobyte,” Stabb said. “Instead of drowning out thousands of bits of information, preprocessing allows the pilot to focus on what really matters. The pilot simply sees a red dot on the screen that shows the threat, its range, altitude, and angle.”

IoMT creates endless possibilities

Northrop Grumman continues to lead system development for interconnecting different systems, making it possible to share information across translators and other technical work systems.

“We can help systems that can’t talk understand each other, and we’re doing that now, but in the future we won’t need alternative solutions, the systems will understand each other from day one,” Stabb said. “The interoperability and connectivity of the Internet of Things means that our collective defense forces will be able to see and understand events, make better decisions and then act faster than the enemy. That will be the real strategic advantage.”

The ability to coordinate operations across domains and make sound decisions in milliseconds based on the most accurate intelligence available, regardless of its source, is a vision that Northrop Grumman helps achieve.

“We can’t even imagine all the possibilities the IoMT will create,” Stabb said. “The first step to harnessing these possibilities is for companies to embrace open systems, to embrace connectivity.”

Find out more about how Northrop Grumman technology is helping to transform the modern battlefield.

This post was created by Insider Studios with Northrop Grumman.

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