USMC F-35s Share Target Data With Army: Project Convergence

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Unread post25 Sep 2020, 03:47

Marine F-35s Share Targeting Data With Army: Project Convergence
24 Sep 2020 Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.

"WASHINGTON: The Army revealed yesterday that Marine Corps F-35 Joint Strike Fighters flew in its future warfare experiments in the Yuma Desert, sending and receiving target data to and from Army units on the ground. Project Convergence “exceeded any expectations,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told reporters Wednesday. “Having F-35s out here last week, working with NRO, NGA, other government agencies…. We’ve learned a lot.”

The stealth jets’ participation in the high-tech Project Convergence wargames came as a surprise even to reporters who’ve been covering the exercise closely. (McCarthy’s remarks were also the first we’ve heard an Army official name the specific spy-satellite agencies involved, though their identity was easy to deduce). This first-ever Project Convergence was primarily about connecting different elements within the Army, and the service had said to expect major participation by the other services only next fall.

But the Marine Corps-Army collaboration this year at Yuma certainly fits with the two services’ growing focus on the Pacific. The Marines bought the jump-jet variant of the F-35, the F-35B, in large part to operate off short airstrips on small islands, and this week they announced plans to create three specialized “littoral regiments” based in the Pacific for island warfare. Earlier this month, the Army deployed HIMARS missile launchers to Palau and the Aleutian Islands as part of the Pacific Defender exercises. Both the Army and Marines are working on new missiles to let HIMARS to strike enemy ships at sea, and the Army’s top modernization priority is a family of longer-range weapons, including hypersonics, to strike targets once reachable only by airstrike....

...Experiments in what’s called Joint All Domain Command & Control, like the Army’s Project Convergence and the Air Force’s ABMS “on-ramps,” aim to automate that process by transmitting data directly from machine to machine. The vision is that spy-satellite photos and other reconnaissance information flow into artificial intelligence software, which spots concealed foes far faster than human analysts can, picks priority targets and sends precise targeting data to whatever friendly unit is best armed and located to strike, be it an aircraft, ground-based missile launcher, or other weapon.

Getting all these systems to work together over such distances is hard enough within a single service like the Army. Getting different systems’ technology to trade data is harder still. That’s true even for an aircraft like the F-35, which is so packed with advanced electronics and data-fusion software that the former Air Force chief of staff, Gen. David Goldfein, called it “a computer that happens to fly.”... [F-35 nickname? THE FLY]

...[the Project Convergence exercise director, Brig. Gen. Richard Ross Coffman] We were able to pass ground targets to the F-35, so the F-35 could affect those targets,” he continued, “and we were able to pass targeting information from the F-35 to ground units so we could deliver effective fires in support of their efforts.”

Note the use of the Pentagon jargon “affect.” “Effects” normally means bombs and bullets on target, but it also includes everything from press releases to hacking and jamming – and the F-35 has publicly acknowledged but highly classified capabilities to conduct cyber and electronic warfare.

Overall, Coffman said, the Army’s AI algorithms were able to spot targets and transmit precision targeting data — not just to the Marine F-35s but to Army drones and artillery pieces – “over 350 times in six weeks.” That’s more than any previous exercise he’s aware of...." [then lots & lots about networks [no not netflicks]

MORE ABOUT PROJECT CONVERGENCE: https://breakingdefense.com/tag/project-convergence/

Source: https://breakingdefense.com/2020/09/mar ... nvergence/
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Unread post12 Oct 2020, 17:39

How the US Army integrated a Marine F-35 jet into its tactical network [long article best read at source]
12 Oct 2020 Nathan Strout & Valerie Insinna

"YUMA PROVING GROUND, Ariz. — During a recent U.S. Army exercise, the service was able to link a Marine Corps F-35B into its developmental networks, enabling the jet to both receive targeting data from satellites and send it to ground-based shooters. Not only did that connection show the flexibility of the Army’s evolving tactical network, but it demonstrated the success the armed services can have as they connect different platforms.

“In some cases — I’m hesitant to use the word but I’ll use it — I think in some cases it was unprecedented," said Willie Nelson, director of Army Futures Command’s Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing Cross-Functional Team.

The connection occurred during Project Convergence, a massive Army exercise at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, that wrapped up at the end of September. During the so-called campaign of learning, the Army put its most cutting-edge technology to the test. It connected sensors from multiple domains to various fires capabilities, fused data and cut down the sensor-to-shooter timeline from 20 minutes to 20 seconds....

...Connecting capabilities
During Project Convergence, the Army demonstrated it could use targeting data from an F-35′s sensors to deliver ground-based fires. The service also used on-orbit sensors and artificial intelligence capabilities to synthesize targeting data, then provide it to the F-35.

Sensor fusion — the ability to take data from the F-35′s sensors and radar and combine it with information from other F-35s — is considered one of the hallmarks of fifth-generation fighters, and a strength of the Lockheed Martin-made Joint Strike Fighter in particular. However, the U.S. military has only begun to experiment with using the F-35 to sync data among multiple platforms owned and operated by different services.

The Army brought its sensor fusion capabilities to bear. On-orbit sensors collected images of the simulated battlefield before sending them to a TITAN ground station surrogate located in Washington state. From there, the images were run through an artificial intelligence system called Prometheus, which scanned and fused those images to detect threats and create targeting data. That targeting data was then sent to Yuma Proving Ground over tactical satellite communications. Then the data was sent to the F-35B over the Link 16 tactical data link. The threats could then be populated on the jet’s onboard weapons systems, allowing the pilot to respond to the new threat.

In short, operators were able to use tactical networks to give a Marine Corps F-35B pilot targeting data created from commercial satellite images using Army-owned AI....

...In that example, the F-35 was used as the shooter in the critical sensor-to-shooter chain. But the Army was also able to use the jet as a sensor, passing along targeting data to another shooter.

Fusing the data generated by the jet’s onboard electronic sensor, the F-35B identified a potential threat and passed that information through Link 16. From there, Army operators could use the FIRESTORM system to find the best possible shooter to fire at the target. (FIRESTORM is the FIRES Synchronization to Optimize Responses in Multi-domain Operations. It’s an AI capability being built for the Army that recommends the best available shooter to respond to a given threat.)

In this scenario, the Army used an Extended Range Cannon Artillery platform to shoot at the beyond-line-of-sight threat picked up by the F-35. “They played around a lot with data passing back-and-forth between, again, a joint partner — in this case, the Marine Corps and an F-35B — to ground,” Nelson said. “So really when you think space to an aviation platform, aviation platform to ground platform, and our ability to pass targeting data back-and-forth between those different communities, it was just wonderful....

...The Army’s use of an F-35B is just the latest development in the Defense Department’s efforts to connect the advanced fighter jet with other platforms. While the Army experiments with using Link 16 to share data between its own platforms and the F-35, the Air Force is testing the Advanced Battle Management System to assess technologies that may enable the F-35 and F-22 to send data across their unique, stealthy data links.

Although information cannot currently be shared across the F-35′s Multifunction Advanced Data Link and the F-22′s Intra-Flight Data Link, the Air Force in December successfully demonstrated a radio interpreter that would allow some data to be passed between the aircraft. The service plans to conduct an airborne test of the interpreter sometime this year."

Source: https://www.c4isrnet.com/battlefield-te ... l-network/
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Unread post16 Oct 2020, 14:07

How the U.S. Army Integrated a Marine F-35 Jet into its Tactical Network [see text above - this is about JPG]
15 Oct 2020 Nathan Strout and Valerie Insinna via LM PR

Photo: https://a855196877272cb14560-2a4fa819a6 ... __main.jpg

Source: https://www.c4isrnet.com/battlefield-te ... l-network/ & https://www.f35.com/news/detail/how-the ... al-network
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