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The Rapid Initiatives Group: Responding to Today's Threats

The RIG, led by NCS Vice President Gene Blackwell, is a strategic business growth organization that operates in a streamlined, rapid-response environment to identify opportunities, assess and shape their strategic value, develop solutions and form partnerships, and transition the pursuit to the appropriate Raytheon product line.

The 12 members of the RIG are currently involved in 40 domestic and 30 international opportunities in more than 20 countries. Many significant opportunities have been identified in:
  • Infrastructure protection
  • Critical asset protection
  • Border security
  • Crisis management
  • Cyber security
  • Civil command and control
Historically, many security threats were effectively and affordably addressed using conventional technologies such as metal detectors, surveillance cameras or access controls. These controlled, single-sensor, binary decision techniques are ineffective for today's asymmetric threats. Most — in some cases all — technical challenges have been solved; the key is bringing them together effectively and affordably. Also critical is user adoption of incremental, fundamental and sometimes revolutionary changes in products, applications or processes that solve these new challenges.

Recasting the opportunities listed above into paradigms, they could be rewritten as:
  • Threats in which the enemy has a significant return on investment advantage. For example, tens of millions of dollars in damages can result from an attack on an oil refinery, which might cost $10,000 to stage.
  • Protection of borders or critical infrastructures without limiting the flow of pedestrian or vehicular traffic.
  • Providing covert surveillance and rapid threat response capabilities for densely populated public areas without infringing on personal privacy.
  • Developing system-level solutions that can adapt as fast as the threat, such as detection of improvised explosive devices or defense against cyber attacks.
Cultural, privacy, financial and ITAR issues need to be addressed, as well as technology and cost.

The RIG's Innovation Environment
The RIG creates solutions through innovative integration of existing and proven emerging technologies. We are also spearheading the exploration of innovative business models to expand NCS' ability to grow in non-traditional markets. Our multidisciplinary team is made up of senior engineers, scientists, business development staff and program leaders. They can leverage customer relationships and operational knowledge and draw on the skills and experience of thousands of people within Raytheon and its partner companies to deconstruct the problem, envision many possible solutions, and define the path for customer adoption.

We go where others aren't, often venturing off established paths toward finding solutions. We seek out and partner with nontraditional businesses — both large and small — to supply the new technologies that provide the innovative solutions.

Consider the possibilities: 3-D imagery enables the viewer to visualize and rationalize relevant battlefield information for quicker decision-making. Advanced biometric technologies provide covert scanning of crowds for individuals of interest.

We take an unbiased approach to seeking out best-in-class capabilities from across industries and technologies and integrate them into an appropriate solution. Our team regularly taps into the skills, knowledge, processes and technologies that have established Raytheon's reputation as a world-class Mission Systems Integrator. The great depth of expertise resident throughout Raytheon allows us to rapidly respond to complex and multi-disciplinary needs.

The Initiative That Launched the RIG
The best example of a successful rapid initiative, and the one that help form the RIG, was the Persistent Surveillance & Dissemination System of Systems (PSDS2). On the battlefield, rapid integration and dissemination of sensor data is vital. At the onset of the Iraq war, sensors were not linked and data dissemination was slow and unreliable. Simply put, quick and efficient integration of sensor data would save lives. For the first time, Raytheon's PSDS2 allowed a command and control system to put sensor data and intelligence information into meaningful context, providing rapid and accurate situational awareness. The system's 3-D picture enabled operators to better understand what they were seeing and where it was happening — enabling anticipation of the threat's next actions. The initial PSDS2 system achieved the goal of improved decision making and quicker reaction time; time from concept to initial system delivery was less than 110 days. The Rapid Initiatives Group continues to work with government and industry partners to enhance operational capability and efficiency.

Emerging Innovations
Many of the challenges described above require innovations in detection of anomalous activity from what would typically be considered routine behavior. In order to provide solutions, emerging RIG innovations exploit advances in persistent surveillance, multi-intelligence data fusion, video analytics, biometric sensing on-the-move, and spectroscopic and imaging detection technologies.

Mobile Enhanced Situational Awareness
Mobile Enhanced Situational Awareness (MESA) is a RIG innovation that exploits commercial off-the-shelf technology to provide a global tracking and alert network. The MESA system leverages commercial satellite, existing communications networks, and RFID technology. RFIDs provide time-critical information through existing bi-directional satellite communication networks, which also provide an alert capability to commercially available or secure radios. The architecture is scalable and supports highly mobile applications. We envision homeland security, military and commercial applications: for example, covert tracking of packages, alerts from unattended ground sensors, or wide-area broadcast to emergency responders.

Affordable Air Surveillance
Serving as the Mission Systems Integrator, the Rapid Initiatives Group assembled 15 industry vendors to demonstrate how off-the-shelf technologies could be integrated to provide greater effectiveness to military, law enforcement and first responder operations. The demonstrations showed various ways to increase the efficiencies in detecting, identifying, responding and eliminating threats for force protection, counter-terror and first responder missions. The event, held at the French Valley Airport in Temecula, Calif., showcased Raytheon's ability to visualize and execute the "Art of the Possible," the theme of the event. The demonstration highlighted the increase in situational awareness and quicker, more accurate decision making through integration of existing technologies. Payloads on an ultralight aircraft and a hyper-blimp were used to efficiently provide persistent surveillance of a specific geographic area. Existing technologies allowed interoperable communications, mobile ad-hoc networks, data sharing and Web-based collaboration across currently stovepiped organizations.

It is not just technology, but innovation (technical, process and business model) that is critical to respond to current needs in the areas of infrastructure protection, critical asset protection, border security, crisis management, cyber security, and civil command and control. Raytheon's focus on Mission System Integration aligns with many of these opportunities and allows for the multi-disciplinary solutions required to meet technical, cultural, financial and user needs.

Mitchell P. Ayoob