Winning tomorrow's war
Five tech enablers needed to win the future fight: Raytheon exec
Advanced technology will provide the crucial advantage in future wars, but only if we have the right strategies to go with it.
The Pentagon's 2018 National Defense Strategy describes the current climate as a “complex security environment defined by rapid technological change,” with dangers spread across land, air, sea, space and cyber. That's a call to the military, which must evolve its strategies to maintain an edge over adversaries.
“We won’t win tomorrow’s wars with yesterday’s technologies and tactics,” said Rick Yuse, president of Raytheon’s Space and Airborne Systems business. “Current and emerging threats are radically different and far more sophisticated than what we’ve seen in recent conflicts.”
Future wars will require decision superiority, an essential advantage in a time of fast-paced conflict enabled by data technologies. Winning in that kind of environment requires "clear, concise, decision-quality information from multiple sources delivered in a very short timeline,” said Yuse, speaking in London before 200 members of the intelligence and command and control communities. “Success in warfare is driven by which side best controls, understands and disseminates information in battle.”
Five key technology enablers are needed to win tomorrow's war, according to Yuse: artificial intelligence and machine learning; high-speed, secure networks; resilient cyber systems; multi-sensor data fusion; and open systems architecture.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning
The sheer volume of data produced in modern conflicts will be overwhelming. To quickly make sense of it all, humans will need the help of artificial intelligence, human-machine teaming and machine learning.
“AI and machine learning will fundamentally change the way we operate,” said Yuse. “These capabilities are already automating labor-intensive activities like satellite imagery analysis and cyber defense.”
The right technology sifts through data and culls out only what’s important to allow human operators to make the best decisions quickly, according to Yuse.
“The goal is to use AI, machine learning and human-machine teaming to eliminate extraneous data and focus on mission critical information,” he said.
High-speed, secure networks
Sharing all that data will require high-speed, secure networks.
Yuse believes future networks need to rely on integrated systems of wired and wireless networks across command and control operations. Such an arrangement would be highly adaptive; attack one component and others could take up the slack. It would decentralize decision-making so it would be harder for an adversary to disrupt operations.
“The network must be designed to enable graceful degradation of capability,” Yuse told the conference goers. “If a node fails or is attacked, then the network must operate through the incident.”
Resilient cyber systems
Yuse also emphasized the need for resilient cyber systems, including hardware and software, that will work even when they are under attack.
“Cyber resiliency cannot be an afterthought,” said Yuse. “It needs to be built in from the early design phase. Resiliency cannot be achieved through a static solution, but instead, one that is dynamically upgraded and refreshed.”
Multi-sensor data fusion
Multi-sensor data fusion creates one, shared, operational picture with data from multiple sensors.
Here’s how it works: Sensors of all kinds, including infrared, radar and others, are spread across different domains to collect massive amounts of imagery and data. Powerful computers process that information in near-real time to create a clear and complete view of the fight. Operators and commanders can use that picture to make the best decisions possible in the shortest amount of time.
Open systems architecture
A venerable concept in both industry and the military, open systems architecture opens to door for using new technologies in larger systems. It allows the use of third-party technologies, similar to the way apps are used to create new capabilities in smartphones.
“This approach...is driving healthy competition across industry,” said Yuse, adding that OSA allows for faster upgrades, easier maintainability and greater stability.