Air Force, Army to conduct major system experiments in 2021 aimed at sharing data instantaneously: report

The U.S. Air Force and Army could begin major experiments on each military branch’s respective systems beginning as early as March 2021 to allow aircraft, sensors and other weapons systems across services to share data instantaneously, according to a report by the Air Force Times.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr. signed a two-year collaboration agreement on Sept. 29 for the development of the Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control, or CJADC2.

According to the CJADC2 concept, each of the military’s six branches plans to connect sensors, shooters and command nodes in a “mesh network” in order to help commanders make informed battlefield decisions faster.

Each branch, including the newly-formed Space Force, are tasked with ensuring their communications, networks and artificial intelligence systems are compatible with one another in order to successfully share and access data, reconnaissance and intelligence collected from across joint networks. “The core challenges of the future fight are speed and scale,” Army deputy chief of staff Lt. Gen. Charles Flynn said in a statement. “The future fight will be much faster, and the joint force will have more sensors and more shooters. (It will) be more widely distributed than ever before.”

Under the effort, the Army is combining Project Convergence, its plan to merge join force capabilities and keep pace with technological change, with the Air Force’s Advanced Battlefield Management System.

On Sept. 18, the Army completed its five-week Project Convergence 20 exercise at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, where it tested artificial intelligence capabilities along with its abilities to transmit information from sensors in the air, space and on the ground.

Meanwhile, the Air Force is developing its Advanced Battlefield Management System, described as an “Internet-of-Things for the military”, to enable the joint force to quickly collect, analyze and transmit data at machine speeds.

The most recent ABMS demonstration took place on Sept. 15-25 in conjunction with U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s Valiant Shield exercise. Under simulated fire during a war game, ABMS was able to show the damage taken to a base and what sorties would be delayed as a result of an attack. It also can help detail where incoming aircraft can be safely diverted and present information about the weather, weapons cache and fuel supply at each installation.

The Air Force has awarded contracts to more than 90 companies for technologies that could become part of ABMS. In addition, Air Force acquisition executive Will Roper told reporters that the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office had been given some of the responsibilities for developing ABMS, allowing the military branch to begin buying the program’s first elements as early as 2021.