Tactical Network as a Service as an enabler for Joint All Domain Command and Control

General Dynamics Mission Systems–Canada is laying the groundwork for the future of Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2). The goal of JADC2 is to connect every sensor, effector and decision maker across all domains and services: land, air, sea, and special forces. The primary aim of command and control continues to be: make better decisions faster and control the initiative in an ever-changing environment. While the progression of technology provides greater connectivity, it also results in an explosive growth in the availability of data. To ensure that the technical solution continues to maximize operational effectiveness, JADC2 solutions must evolve from being simply network focused (i.e., connecting soldiers and transporting information) to being data-centric and aiding all aspects of the decision making cycle.

Realizing the future

The future battlefield will be one where assets from all domains work together in a data-centric environment, leverage advanced technologies that augment human capabilities, and enable the understanding of dynamic situation. This will allow operators to evaluate opportunities and threats, act decisively, and coordinate the use of all domain assets effectively.

The complex solutions necessary to achieve the vision of JADC2 will require a well-architected system of systems. The new solution will need to embrace new technologies, structures and processes. To begin to realize fully the goal of data-driven decision-making, the JADC2 solution must overcome three overarching challenges.

Challenge 1: Data Consolidation

The modern battlefield contains a diverse and widely distributed set of sensor and effectors that generate and consume data. The existing communication and data silos inherent in many systems prevent data from being quickly and easily collected, retained and accessed. However, simply discarding and replacing the fielded communications and information systems would be both impractical and uneconomical. The future solution for JADC2 must seamlessly incorporate both new and existing technologies to create a complete data fabric.

Challenge 2: Data Quantity and Quality

The quantity of data to be processed can already be overwhelming for the operators.  If not managed effectively, the introduction of new sensors and data sources will only exacerbate this issue. Additionally, as more data becomes available – from more dispersed sources – data quality and integrity will also become an issue. The process of enriching data into actionable intelligence is no longer one that operators can practically complete without automation. This activity requires advanced applications in data fusion, data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning.  The future JADC2 solution must embrace these advanced techniques to autonomously process data, and to augment the decision-making capabilities of soldiers.

Challenge 3: Making Sense of the Data

Even with the refinement and consolidation of the data, commanders need to be able to make sense of – and have confidence in – the information at hand.   In the ever changing battlespace, it is critical to understand the dynamic situation, and assess in real-time the opportunities and threats as they arise.   In the complex modern battlespace, human cognitive capability to understand and act on the information is critical to success.  The future solution for JADC2 must provide innovative ways to present and contextualize information, ensuring it is consumable.  Innovative visualization tools must provide complex information in easily exploitable formats so operators can evaluate possible options, visualize the opportunities and threats, and improve the decision-making process.

The Solution: General Dynamics’ Data Foundation

General Dynamics’ data foundation addresses the interoperability of data from all domain assets, forming a data-centric foundation, ready for exploitation by artificial intelligence and advanced algorithms, and then visualized through user applications (Figure 1). The Tactical Network as a Service (TNaaS) for JADC2 realizes the digital spine enabling data-based decision making to coordinate decisive effects from every soldier, sailor, aircrew, specialist and combat system they command.

Data Ingestion

To realize JADC2, systems need to evolve from network-centricity to data-centricity. A comprehensive data foundation requires an internetwork that connects all sensors, data sources and effectors. The TNaaS integration framework connects physical bearers, whether they are terrestrial combat nets, mobile ad hoc networks, high-capacity line of sight, or non-terrestrial beyond line-of-sight subnetworks. The TNaaS interconnects each subnetwork and transports data across a heterogeneous internetwork where the capacity, bandwidth, and latency varies by orders of magnitude. Communications in the battlespace are further challenged as any of the links may be disconnected, intermittent and low-bandwidth (DIL). The TNaaS addresses these forms of degradation through its innovation in multi-layer routing and disruption tolerant networking.

Network Integrity

The TNaaS forms a dynamic core internetwork by integrating the existing legacy bearers and new communication systems.   Challenges arise with both legacy and new bearers handling the volume of gathered data. In the situation where there is unused capacity in the internetwork, additional sensors would soon fill the gap. A key feature built into TNaaS is its Quality of Service (QoS) mechanisms. When the internetwork congests, the QoS mechanisms prioritizes the most important traffic flowing through the communications systems, whether sensor data or commands to the effectors. The QoS feature is critical to maintaining the integrity and effectiveness of the tactical internetwork.

Multi-domain Data Security

TNaaS interconnects other networks through a series of secure gateways to integrate Tactical Data Links, Federated Mission Network, and public formats. The data will come from allies, coalition forces, public safety and other government organizations, and potentially public sources via the Internet. The data from all domains has multiple security classifications and caveats, which further fractures the data and impedes consolidation.  The data foundation preserves the separation and integrity of the information from these multiple security domains, while supporting cross-domain availability from all operational sources. To elicit confidence, the data foundation maintains the lineage of the consolidated data and its classification throughout its lifecycle.

Data Orchestration

The data foundation orchestrates the validation, refinement, integration and fusion of the data, all the while maintaining its pedigree and provenance. With a sound data foundation, a suite of advanced algorithms can generate information through link analysis, data analytics, and execution of trained operational AI/ML models in near-real time to assist the commanders in maintaining the tempo of the operation. These algorithms filter critical information from the noise, generate and evaluate enemy and friendly courses of action, and evaluate threats. The solid data foundation facilitates the AI/ML algorithms to turn this information into knowledge. This new knowledge rolls back into the AI/ML engines further increasing its veracity and improving decision support.

Edge Processing

“JADC2 is arguably ‘AI enabled operations’! As Five Eyes C2 systems transition from current single domain, voice dominant, network centric solutions to JADC2 data centric architectures, the role of the internetwork becomes even more prominent to ensure the secure and uninterrupted provision of unparalleled volumes of curated data to the insatiable AI/ML/data analytics algorithms which drive JADC2.”   -Cyrus Aiken, EW & Cyber Advisor, General Dynamics Mission Systems–Canada

The TNaaS integrates processing and storage services at the edge, along with the information services to discover, automate, and orchestrate micro-services.  The TNaaS enables the distribution of data refinement, fusion, an analysis at the edge, requiring only consolidated information to disseminate through the internetwork.

Data Visualization

The TNaaS integration framework for applications provides secure shared information services, including hosting, storage, discovery and data sharing. Additionally, it provides core business communication and collaboration services such as military messaging, chat, geospatial, information management, and teleconferencing services.

General Dynamics recognizes the need to expand access to, and accelerate availability of, enhanced and innovative capabilities to enable JADC2 to respond to increasingly diverse and adaptive challenges. We achieve this through engaging a broader base of Canadian industry and using our nation’s best minds to support best-of-breed micro-services including data refinement engines, analysis, and visualization applications; interactive training, emulation and simulation engines; and battle management and intelligence applications.  Through a Human Centred Design approach, the solution visualizes information in manner to accelerate data-driven decision-making.   

Enabling JADC2

Tactical Network as a Service (TNaaS) will make JADC2 possible. TNaaS enables the integration of sensors, data sources and effectors from all domain assets into a communications internetwork of new and legacy bearers with gateways to joint, interagency, multinational, and public partners. It manages the distribution of the data across a variety of bearers with unique capabilities and service levels. The system provides unattended self-forming and self-healing multi-level routing across the DIL environment whilst preserving the integrity of the internetwork. The TNaaS facilitates the processing of raw data and refined data at the edge. Upon receipt of the data, the data foundation ingests the data into a robust data fabric. Building off this data foundation, the orchestration services execute a suite of link analysis, data analytics, and trained AI/ML models. Through the user applications, the commanders and their staff are able to exploit the information to make better decisions faster, and accelerate the tempo of the operation. In completing the cycle, the TNaaS facilitates the dissemination of the resulting plans to maximize the effect and to coordinate assets across all domains.

In the future, all domains work together in a data-centric environment, with advanced technology to better visualize the opportunities and threats in an ever-changing situation, enabling commanders to decide quickly and soldiers to act decisively.