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juni 25, 2024

  • Understand the operational environment
  • Utilise the latest technologies
  • Deal with threats

Enhancing security in the Black Sea

The economic and strategic security of the small sea has global ramifications

The strategic importance of the Black Sea, and the countries surrounding it, has been thrust into sharp relief since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022. The blockading of Ukrainian ports slowed down international grain supplies, sending prices skyrocketing and increasing food insecurity in some of the most poverty-stricken parts of the world that relied on access to Ukrainian grains. Drifting sea-mines have continued to cause disruption to civilian shipping, raising the prices of maritime insurance, and causing transportation risks to remain high.

Similarly, some of the nascent oil and gas projects in the Black Sea have also been held back, as the risks of damage to offshore energy installations has been heightened.

Cables supporting both power and telecommunications infrastructure also cross the seabed, connecting Europe with the Caucasus, Turkey, and beyond.

Given this complex operating environment, how can security providers in the region best ensure they can protect this critical infrastructure from a variety of threats? As the 1936 Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits restricts the type and number of non-Black Sea nation warships that can operate in the region, requesting support from allies is made more difficult for the Black Sea nations. Similarly, the deployment of non-regional warships may serve to escalate tensions in the region, rather than help to reduce them.

As a result, Black Sea nations need to find ways to maximise their intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and command-and-control capabilities so they can deal with threats before they arise, and allocate resources appropriately. In order to do this, an understanding of the operational environment needs to be achieved, with the latest technologies being employed to assist this monitoring, and co-ordination being undertaken to deal with threats.

Understand the operational environment

Delivering a comprehensive recognised maritime picture (RMP) to a shore-based command is a fundamental requirement to ensuring security in a maritime environment. Fusing inputs from a variety of maritime sensor systems, such as coastal surveillance radars, deployed ships, and ship-borne Automatic Identification System (AIS) trackers help to establish a baseline RMP.

Embracing multidomain operations means that the RMP can be fully enriched with additional, real-time information. Combining feeds from airborne assets such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), maritime patrol aircraft, space-based assets, and more, allows for a comprehensive situational awareness that gives military and political commanders the ability to make critical decisions with the most information possible.

Systematic’s SitaWare Maritime has been deployed in maritime operations centres to help deliver an RMP to commanders, allowing them to have a full understanding of the maritime operational domain. This has allowed ship-based commanders to operate with greater independence and flexibility, as commanders can have a better appreciation of the operational environment that each ship finds itself in. Complex operational planning can also be undertaken, with plans developed collaboratively and shared easily with all stakeholders.

Utilise the latest technologies

As the number of detectable objects increases, the need to filter out the important from the unimportant is key to a successful operation. Additionally, identifying suspicious activity can help with the intelligent deployment of assets to deal with risks and challenges as they arise, and aid the planning cycle.

Maximising the value of the RMP and wider common intelligence picture means extracting the most intelligence from it in as close to real-time as possible. Technologies such as track correlation and analysis, smart alerts, and more, mean that intelligence analysts and planners can spend less time on mundane tasks. Leveraging other artificial intelligence technologies, such as computer vision, can help monitor changes and assist in finding objects of interest amongst a broad search area.

SitaWare Maritime comes with the SitaWare Fusion track correlation engine, assisting in the analysis of vessel tracks to identify suspicious behaviour. With multiple systems feeding into the RMP, it is essential that a command centre is not overwhelmed with duplicated and inaccurate data. Ingesting data from sources such as AIS, OTH-Gold, radars, remote sensors, and more, the correlation engine helps to de-duplicate vessel tracks, ensuring that an accurate RMP is delivered.

SitaWare Insight, Systematic’s intelligence support tool, can also help with wide-area intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance work through its leveraging of tools such as computer vision and change monitoring. This technology can be used to identify the changing maritime environment for the departure of vessels from port, swift identification of vessels and other maritime objects of interest, and more.

Deal with threats

Once threats are identified, dealing with them through an appropriate choice of action – be it kinetic, non-kinetic, or deterring through enhanced presence. Co-ordinating this response, through functional interoperability as well as forward planning, means that naval forces can be effective in achieving their missions of providing security in the maritime domain.

Interoperability is a major factor in mission success in a maritime environment like the Black Sea. With air and land assets able to readily support the efforts of maritime forces, ensuring that plans can be easily co-ordinated to a variety of stakeholders, capabilities leveraged, and situational awareness shared requires systems that can easily function with each other. The multinational nature of the region also means that bespoke, disparate command-and-control systems can cause stovepipes in operations dealing with threats of mutual concern. Systematic’s SitaWare suite supports a variety of data standards to foster interoperability between forces and assets, meaning that sharing data is simplified, and an accurate overview of the operational area is easily achieved.

If this article captured your interest, you may find our 'Command and Control' podcast equally engaging

Episode 6: AI in C2

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are the latest buzzwords to hit defence. Yet, what do they really mean? Former Chief of the Royal Danish Air Force Henrik Dam and Brigadier General (Rtd) Henrik Sommer separate fact from science fiction and explain what industry can really provide to militaries.

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