One of the key challenges in getting after solutions surrounding so-called multi-domain battle, as outlined by Army Training and Doctrine Command chief Gen. David Perkins, is that in years past the force would solve problems in their respective domains, creating a federated series of solutions. Later on, these systems would have to be strung together and modified for broader use.

One way to bridge this gap, while the military looks to "bake in" multi-domain and multi-functional systems from the start, as Perkins said, is employing open systems architectures.

"The idea behind an open systems architecture is to create opportunities where you don’t have stovepiped, proprietary systems that don’t allow for things to plug in," said Daniel Verwiel, vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman Mission Systems. "It’s very important for us to create an interface where someone can take a system and design an interface around the edge device."

The military has been imploring industry to take an open architecture approach to afford greater flexibility in applying systems that can essentially plug and play regardless of the configuration.

"What we’re now creating by design are multi-domain, multi-function capabilities that can be tied into other systems," said Jeffrey Palombo, sector vice president of Northrop Grumman Mission Systems.

The open architecture model is "really a company mindset that has been put in place," Palombo added, regardless if an open architecture system is providing the interface for other industry partners to contribute to the solution as a whole or an existing system can be repurposed through software applications to create a multi-functional capability.

Verwiel explained how systems such as Northrop’s

Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System

, or IBCS, takes a stovepiped solution like a Patriot missile battery and leverages all the sensors that are out there — from Patriot to

Terminal High Altitude Area Defense

, AN/TPY-2 X-Band radar or AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel radar — to process that information coming in and assign a specific missile to take out a particular threat.

This creates a capability with a broad interoperable environment leveraging all the assets the Army has, he said. "This is where we see multi-domain going."

Where multi-domain battle really converges is by integrating solutions such as IBCS to the various domains of battle — air, land, sea, space and cyber. Verwiel noted a trend where all levels of the military are pushing toward an interoperable environment from each one of those domains.