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Manned-Unmanned Air Vehicle Team Tactical Cloud Analysis


RT&L FOCUS AREA(S): General Warfighting Requirements

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Battlespace Environments; Information Systems

OBJECTIVE: Develop an innovative analysis process to assess/grade various communications technology improvements against operational mission effect chains and outcomes.

DESCRIPTION: The communications complexities in today’s battlespace continue to increase at an exponential rate. The Joint force is anticipating and entering an era where our tactical and operational communications dominance is in question and considers the peer/near-peer environment where the potential enemy can interrupt and impede our military operations. Looking to 2030, analysts and military professionals can no longer assume an unfettered technological advantage in the battlefield or established Joint Operational Area (JOA). Given these assumptions, the services have embarked on a variety of advance solutions needed to achieve success in the communications battlefield today’s, near-term, and future operating environments. The central theme to future improvements is a force that leverages several key concepts such as agile communications, single source networking, app services, and ultimately, a seamless Joint All Domain Command and Control Combat Cloud.

Crucial in meeting the Joint forces demands of the future is gaining an understanding of the trade space; specifically, looking at the various products and concepts over the intervening years that are intended to help inform and guide service programmatic decision makers to the 2030 timeframe. Numerous developmental efforts such as agile communications, software defined radios, mobile Ad hoc networking, and emerging free space optical communications (FSOC) represent new innovation and in some cases center on refinements of existing capability.

Given the wide array of new innovation, an assessment process is needed in which to ascertain the trade space to overall risk, and with the ability to attain needed capabilities in which to engage and win in all warfighting domains. Typical individual communications research products tend to focus on a given set of metrics such as latency, jitter, link closures, bandwidth usage, and other detailed performance metrics. While detailed measure of performance (MOP) research and analysis is important, there is a significant gap presented to the decision maker, this gap centers on the ability to understand exactly what the trade space is with regard to attaining a desired operational mission F2T2EA (Find, Fix, Track, Target, Engage and Assess) effect, or the ability of a system, or system-of-systems, to successfully execute mission effects chains. The operational mission analysis effects chain analysis would serve to further the overall development of emerging capabilities such as:

(a) Manned-Unmanned Directional Mesh Enhanced Tactical Airborne Networks. This capability would support missions such as battlespace awareness, target development, intelligence preparation of battlefield, assault support approach and retirement lanes, landing zone evaluation, flank and rear area security, and Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel (TRAP). The application of the operational mission effects analysis would provide the ability to assess the effects of the Directional Mesh Enhanced Tactical Airborne Networks in quantifiable metrics which would include overall mission accomplishment assessments, risks and the ability to compress engagement–recovery timelines; and

(b) Analysis of communications and networking solutions in support of Agile Communications architectures focusing on the secure cloud computing environment and impacts to warfare execution based on transactional information flow to and from permissive, contested, and anti-access and area denial (A2/AD) environments.

It is not enough to simply store raw data within the Tactical Combat Cloud-based infrastructure, such as the Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) or Apache Accumulo, because this does not provide a common data model that can be shared across a Multi-Domain Secure Lake architecture that meets the Data Sharing Authoritative Guidance for Enterprise Knowledge Base.

An alternative is a data management strategy and a work flow that recognizes the strengths of the focal plane gate arrays (FPGA)s at the edge with the task of providing specific data to the Tactical Combat Cloud. In turn, the Tactical Combat Cloud recognizes the role of the FPGA and graphics processor unit (GPU) at the edge in a Parent Child relationship. As a child of the cloud, a sensor will respond to tasking low level tasking in support of the overall data objective. The sensor will collect both the locally required (tactical) data as well as the data needed to complete the overall picture of the Tactical Combat Cloud object. The aggregate of sensors via a data normalization strategy will provide the machine to machine analytic to provide the human with a machine enabled decision.

The intent of conducting operation analysis is to provide quantitative data to the various proposed communications and networking solutions as presented. The results are focused on the operational effectiveness and benefit to the warfighter, to include tactical, operational and strategic level of warfare planning and execution. The analysis will aid in identifying:

(a) the relevance and outcomes of proposed capabilities needed to enable modernization in the near-term and future timeframes when differing information sources, in both content and format are in use and differing information consumers across contexts to which information ought to be transmitted;

(b) an operational assessment of communications and networking system shortfalls (gaps) such as missing, unreliable, and stale data; and multiple diverse input data/video streams use;

(c) impacts of current, near-term, and future capabilities versus advancing threat capabilities;

(d) a rapid and repeatable process that measures the operational impact of various proposed communications and networking solutions in geospatial and temporal relationships that are not permanent;

(e) a probabilistic interpretation of the unlimited range of actual specific outputs of sensors and analytics to produce meaningful information management decisions and judgements; and

(f) quality of Service (QoS)

• Frequency of information updates: the rate at which updated values are sent or received.

• Priority of data delivery: the priority used by the underlying transport to deliver the data.

• Reliability of data delivery: whether missed deliveries will be retried.

• Parameters for filtering by data receivers: to determine which data values are accepted and which are rejected.

• Duration of data validity: the specification of an expiration time for data to avoid delivering “stale” data. • Depth of the ‘history’ included in updates: how many prior updates will be available at any time, e.g., ‘only the most recent update,’ ‘the last n updates,’ or ‘all prior updates’.


(a) an IP-routable network is assumed to exist, and be self-managing and self-healing;

(b) when and where one exists, the local Tactical Operations Center/Forward Operating Base (TOC/FOB) is assumed to be linked to the Global Information Grid/Joint Information Environment (GIG/JIE) with reliable, high-bandwidth connections. Further, it is assumed to have sufficient compute capacity to operate as a local Cloud, offering services to the tactical edge networks (TENs) linked to it;

(c) operational units are hosting the tactical network within which that warfighter operates. It is further assumed that this tactical network may have attached sensors producing data that would typically be forwarded to the TOC/FOB for data enrichment. If, however, the tactical unit is temporarily disconnected from the TOC/FOB, then it is assumed that there is a local tactical processing gateway (TGW) serving the tactical unit that will offer backup services (appropriate for the compute platform available on the gateway), minimally, performing sensor data enrichment (such as tagging it with the current "team" and "mission") in support of VoI analysis (see below). Note, however, that the proposed architecture allows for a fully distributed gateway meaning that any participating node within the TEN could potentially “become” the TGW if required due to failure or destruction (albeit with potentially more constrained performance); and

(d) processing power at the tactical node level (individual warfighter) will be extremely limited, due to Size, Weight, and Power (SWaP) rations. Management of the tactical data flow will be managed by one or more TGW nodes at the unit level that can support the additional processing load, such as a vehicle, which connects the TEN to the TOC/FOB network.

PHASE I: Develop an initial concept design to assess/grade various communications technology improvements against operational mission effect chains and outcomes to include requirements analysis and scenario development. Demonstrate that the proposed concept(s) is/are able to provide data distribution and information sharing within a battlespace, where each authorized user, platform, or node transparently contributes and received essential information and is able to utilize it across the full range of military operations among ad hoc and mesh networks. If the Phase I Option is exercised and if appropriate, include data ingress/egress and transformation/subscription services to validate processes, verify processes functionality, and assess processes readiness to conduct trade space analysis versus mission outcomes. The Phase I effort will include prototype plans to be developed under Phase II.

PHASE II: Develop a prototype based on the Phase I design; and demonstrate in a realistic data-to-decision mesh network tactical cloud environment. Propose, test and validate mitigations for any technical issues that are discovered during the testing and assessment. In the first Phase II Option, if exercised, augment in response to events/attacks with a proof-of-concept featuring automation of processes. In the second Phase II option, if exercised, fabricate the prototype using these automated processes and an aggregate of data consistent with these use cases, reflecting system operation over a sufficient period of time on which proposed learning processes can operate. The prototype system should be capable of running level 1 (data resolution) and level 2 (interference) fusion algorithms across geographically separate cloud nodes, each holding different data sources, some streaming; and be able to maintain data models and inferences about behavior while allowing machine learning from a distributed cloud architecture.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Assess the prototype performance as part of a technology readiness level 6 or higher demonstration to support transition. Prototype should be capable of producing an application or set of applications that are capable of being generalized to N number of cloud nodes with relevance to Navy and Marine Corps use cases. The Phase III product(s) should be capable of running on program of record cloud systems such as DCGS-N using existing services to run against operational data. Realize the objective should be a concentration of operational relevance and transition. Propose commercial variants of the aerial layer network cloud philosophy.

The use of cloud architectures is becoming prevalent in both the DoD and private sector. Law enforcement and news services are private sectors that have a need to move beyond capabilities that enable data discovery in distributed clouds to systems that can implement complex data fusion algorithms. Data stored in clouds are already being used by these sectors to assess trends and discover events and activities of interest.


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