The Pentagon is asking industry to help build ground stations it needs for multidomain operations and for sending targeting data to military networks used to fire weapons.

In a March 18 notice to industry, the Pentagon’s Silicon Valley outpost, the Defense Innovation Unit, said leaders there are interested in a prototype ground station that can quickly process sensor data from military satellites and improve battlefield awareness.

“The goal of the program is to reduce sensor to shooter latency via automated metadata correlation to provide time-dominant intelligence for delivery of desired effects (e.g. Long-Range Precision Fires),” the notice read.

The program would include a two-year competition. Industry would have to deliver two working mobile ground stations in January 2022 for use in a government exercise. Those ground stations would have to prove they offer a reduced latency direct downlink of data/imagery from commercial space sensors and military or intelligence satellites. Because the sensors will generate a flood of data, the prototypes would also need to rely on artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The DIU effort is working in parallel to the Army’s TITAN ground station program, which will process aerial and terrestrial sensors.

In October, Brig. Gen. Rob Collins, program executive officer for intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors, said the Army has roughly 100 tactical ground stations, 13 operational ground stations and “a few” other dissemination vehicles.

Army leaders have said TITAN will allow for the conduct of deep targeting in a contested environment and enabling “cross-domain fires with [artificial intelligence-]shortened kill-chains.” The system is supposed to be a primary tool for a new unit working with the Army’s Multi-Domain Task Force known as I2CEWS, which stands for intelligence, information, cyber, electronic warfare and space.

Responses are due April 3.

Mike Gruss served as the editor-in-chief of Sightline Media Group's stable of news outlets, which includes Army Times, Air Force Times, C4ISRNET, Defense News, Federal Times, Marine Corps, Military Times and Navy Times.

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