The Army has briefed industry on its upcoming electronic warfare program and is now asking for feedback.
The Terrestrial Layer System (TLS) is an integrated EW and signals intelligence system for ground use that the Army decided to pursue instead of the old Multi-Functional Electronic Warfare Ground and Dismounted system. The Army asserts that the capabilities the electronic warfare and cyber enterprise were pursuing for MFEW Ground were nearly identical to what the signals intelligence enterprise was pursuing. Thus, they decided to integrate the capabilities.
According to briefing slides presented to industry during a Jan. 23 industry day, made available on the FedBizOpps website, what’s really changed for the Army between previous plans and the new path it is charting is six-fold: urgent requirements from Europe and elsewhere to close capability gaps; three years of rapid prototyping; convergence of EW, signals intelligence, cyber and space; availability of national assets and advanced software capabilities from the intelligence community; a new national defense strategy that prioritizes near-peer competition; and approval for rapid EW force structure growth in the Army.
TLS, according to the slides, integrates signals intelligence, EW and cyber capabilities, which will be adaptable and tailored for Army tactical formations and continues technology innovation over the system’s lifecycle, securing an enduring competitive advantage.
The Army noted that its approach thus far is subject to change given the availability of software-based capabilities combined with rapid prototyping and real-world soldier feedback leveraging urgent capability needs.
However, it currently states the TLS acquisition approach is to utilize the Consortium for Command, Control and Communications in Cyberspace Other Transaction Authority to prototype systems for TLS FY20 with potential follow-on procurement.
Army officials have previously told C4ISRNET that TLS will not be taking the traditional acquisition path as a means of going faster, getting capabilities in the hands of soldiers to both gain useful feedback but also provide them a limited capability in the interim.
“Are we going to field this next week? Not necessarily, but we’re talking fielding to the force in the next two to three years, not seven to 10 years,” Col. Jennifer McAfee, director of the Training and Doctrine Command’s capabilities manager for terrestrial and identity at the Intelligence Center of Excellence, said.
Initial design tenets for TLS must be expeditionary to support a maneuver unit, modular leveraging open architectures, software defined framework enabling rapid integration of signal libraries, automated machine learning reducing the soldier workload and rapid and agile.
Moreover, an industry solution must leverage what has been learned from deploying urgent capabilities early to the field, what’s been learned from programs of record, what’s been observed from other services, partners and adversaries and technology evolution.
Following the industry day, the Army is looking for industry’s feedback on a variety areas, namely comments/recommendations on the current contracting strategy; comments/recommendations on the current reference architecture; comments/recommendations on necessary infrastructure/equipment to support developmental test and operational test range testing; and comments/recommendations for an optimized approach to integrating signals intelligence, EW and cyber systems/capabilities on a single vehicle.
Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.