Last Updated: 06/15/2013*
Night is closing in, and enemy mortar fire is hammering a group of soldiers on a heavily forested hillside. They need air support – and fast.
Below the hill, a forward air controller on the ground discusses the firefight with an F-16 pilot high overhead. To the naked eye, the hillside is just a mass of trees. But monocles worn by both pilot and controller make the situation immediately clear: blue symbols overlaid on the trees mark the pinned-down soldiers, and their opponents are highlighted by red symbols in the eyepiece.
The controller spots the enemy mortar and presses a button. A bright icon appears on the target. The pilot fires a missile, and within seconds the threat is gone.
This new Joint Tactical Air Controller system, now in the prototype stage, is one of dozens of new innovations that Raytheon is highlighting at the Paris Airshow. The advances range from tiny, jet-powered jammers to helmets that can create 3-D audio.
The JTAC system allows ground troops and aviatiors to share information intuitively. Click for high-resolution image.
“We are eager to show our international customers our most recent innovations, which can help them better protect their borders and make them safer,” said John Harris, Raytheon Company vice president and general manager of the company’s Intelligence, Information and Services business.
Visitors to Raytheon’s pavilion will learn about:
- 3-D Audio – This system allows pilots to “hear” incoming fire and better manage radio traffic by assigning radio frequencies to different locations around them.
- Miniature Air-Launched Decoy-Jammer: A tiny jammer that can be launched like a missile and fly 500 miles using its own jet engine.
- Multispectral Targeting System, a family of sensor turrets that gives aircraft unprecedented views through dust and darkness. Visitors will be able to manipulate virtual versions of the turrets on iPads at the pavilion.
- Deployable Radar Approach Control: This “Air Traffic Control in a Box” fits an entire air traffic management system, including a radar tower, into four shipping containers. It was recently purchased by the U.S. Air Force.
- The Center Display Unit, the U.S. Air Force’s “glass cockpit” upgrade for the F-16.
Visitors will also see models of Standard Missile-3 and its kill vehicle, key parts of the U.S. missile defense system, and learn about JLENS, the aerostat system that will soon be defending the Washington, D.C. area.
JLENS consists of two aerostats carrying powerful radars.
The innovation shows Raytheon commitment to research and development. That’s especially important in times of tight defense budgets, experts say.
"It's a terrible strategy to cut the future to afford the moment," said Jeff Kueter, President of the George Marshall Institute. “I'm an Iowa boy: …Cutting the seed corn is the last thing that you should be doing because you don't have anything to plant the next year."
Like JTAC, many of Raytheon’s advances aim to give warfighters better situtational awareness. The JTAC system builds upon the Aviation Warrior technology that Raytheon unveiled last year at the Farnborough Air Show.
“You can think of JTAC’s digital ear and eye magnification as the developing military-grade version of the efforts to link humans and data in real-time,” said Todd Lovell, technical director for Raytheon's Intelligence, Information and Services business.
The JTAC system consists of a lightweight vest with communications and data-processing equipment. The vest feeds information to a helmet-mounted monocle in front of the soldier’s eye.
The JTAC system includes a wearable processor and a wrist-worn display. Click for high-resolution image.
To pick a target, a soldier simply looks at it and presses a button. The target appears as a diamond in the monocle.
High above the battlefield, pilots can look down and see the same symbols in their monocles and on their cockpit displays.
Two wraparound simulators at Raytheon’s pavilion – one showing a landscape from the ground and the other an F-16 cockpit – allow visitors to pick a target and fire a simulated Maverick missile. In the cockpit simulator they’ll also hear a threat warning in 3-D Audio when the F-16 draws enemy fire from a surface-to-air missile.
JTAC and Aviation Warrior are part of a larger family of situational awareness technologies that Raytheon is developing. The company calls the technology Advanced Warfighter Awareness for Real-time Engagement, or AWARE.
“Our focus is on leveraging our extensive experience in situational awareness to produce a suite of affordable, rugged and lightweight intuitive networking products for today’s warfighter in virtually any application,” said Jim Negro, chief technologist with Raytheon’s Intelligence, Information and Services business. “At Paris you’ll see the direction we’re headed with AWARE for air, land, sea, space and cyber.”
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