Adversaries are creating systems to keep U.S. forces at bay, including long-range missiles, advanced radar equipment to sense incoming assets and non-kinetic means of engagement, such as cyber and electronic warfare. This has made the Army realize it needs a long-range penetrating capability to thwart these so-called anti-access area denial areas.
But, in order to target accurately, the Army needs to be able to “see” thousands of miles to locate what it is shooting at.
“Right now, we have a challenge with sensing deep in the United States Army. The chief’s No. 1 priority for modernization is long-range precision fires,” Maj. Gen. Robert Walters, commander of the Intelligence Center of Excellence, said during a presentation March 26 at the AUSA Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama.
Brig. Gen. Jennifer Buckner, director of cyber within the Army’s G-3/5/7, told an audience at a March 21 AFCEA conference in National Harbor that the need to see long ranges means sensing where missiles are firing, but also viewing activity in the virtual space.
To address this hybrid approach, Army officials have outlined a variety of efforts, including task forces and actual materiel solutions.
One is an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance task force created in 2018 by the Army’s intelligence directorate to optimize Army ISR capabilities for so-called multidomain operations, Cheryle Rivas, an Army spokeswoman, told C4ISRNET.
The task force will also enhance and capitalize on complimentary capabilities across the joint force and intelligence community.
Rivas noted that the task force performs a complimentary and enabling role to the Army’s eight cross-functional teams, which sit under Futures Command and are associated with the service’s six modernization priorities: long-range precision fires, next-generation combat vehicles, future vertical lift, the network, air and missile defense and soldier lethality.
Rivas added that intelligence is central to the Army’s ability to conduct lethal strikes that are not hampered by the denial strategies of near-peer competitors.
“The ISR TF is working with long-range precision fires, assured precision, navigation and timing, and future vertical lift cross-functional teams to optimize existing intelligence capabilities, as well as to identify critical collection requirements from the Space to the Terrestrial Layer that can provide targetable data in support of long-range precision,” she said.
On the materiel side, Walters outlined a variety of capability — from the space to the terrestrial layer — that the Army is pursuing to get after the challenges of sensing deep into enemy territory.
The first is something called the multidomain sensing system. This is designed to be sensor-centric as opposed to platform-centric and will include everything from tethered antennas to high-altitude balloons to low-orbit satellites in space, Walters said.
“We want smart sensors that are tied down to shooters to close that gap to when we see the enemy to when we kill the enemy,” he said.
Part of the multidomain sensing system includes sensors, such as synthetic aperture radar and moving target identification sensors enabled with artificial intelligence, that can detect enemy movements on the ground to strike them.
“The intent of this aerial layer of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance is to enable us to sense deep so that we can provide the intel support to targeting, but we can also provide electronic warfare capabilities deeper into the enemy’s formations,” Walters told the audience, adding that this includes electronic attack.
“We have to be able to sense that far to provide that to the shooters for them to engage the enemy,” he told C4ISRNET. “We have to do it rapidly. That’s why we want the smart sensors in the sky and we can program them so we know what the enemy’s order of battle looks like.”
A program called TITAN will change four different ground systems that receive overhead information into one, Walters said, the intent being to capitalize on national assets, commercial capabilities and capabilities possessed by sister services.
According to a slide during his presentation, TITAN will allow for the conduct of deep targeting in a contested environment and enabling “cross-domain fires with AI shortened kill-chains.”
Walters also included the Terrestrial Layer System in this discussion of providing sensing capabilities deep into enemy territories. TLS is a combined signals intelligence and electronic warfare system that will be mounted on ground platforms.
The Army is using a variety of prototyping efforts and soldier feedback to inform how it will equip electronic warfare units for the field.
Walters told C4ISRNET that the ultimate intent for the Army is to provide all these capabilities at all echelons.
TLS will be at the brigade combat team level, as well as expeditionary military intelligence brigades, while the TITAN will be at all echelons and ground stations. The multidomain sensing system will likely be a division and above asset, he told C4ISRNET.