Joint effects: the role of interoperability standards
As the fires mission becomes digitialised, ensuring the right data is collected and distributed to the right stakeholders becomes critical to success.
Operating a single C4ISR battle management system across multiple domains comes with numerous benefits – improved situational awareness, integrated planning, optimised resource usage, and greater collaboration towards a common goal. However, there are some key tools that underpin the successful deployment and utility of a single platform. When examining these requirements through one aspect of the mission command function, fires, gathering and delivering accurate data helps to ensure the success of a fires mission, while also helping to extract the maximum usability for all battlespace participants.
The key questions to ask
The data threads behind the fabric of a Call for Fire (CFF) are many, and stem from critical questions. What is the target ,, how big is it, and what level of protection does it have? Where is it? What kind of ammunition is needed to achieve the desired effect? How accurate is the target designation? Are there any friendly forces, civilians, or protected buildings nearby that need to be considered when performing a weaponeering analysis? Are there airspace deconfliction issues I need to be considering, or other obstacles between the effectors and the target? How much time do I have to execute this mission? What fires assets are available to deliver effects on target?
If a sensor or designator is being used to identify the target, what format is the data being delivered to the battle management system (BMS) in to ensure it is readable? Once the CFF is ready, how does a BMS deal with latency or communication issues? How is the delivery of effects properly calculated, accounting for munition characteristics, weather, and other factors?
As these questions become data points for use in the digital CFF, the modern effector can be more precise, creating accuracy for unguided munitions and enhancing the effectiveness of a commander’s C4ISR platform. Digitalising these critical components in a CFF means that errors are reduced.
Intelligent data distribution
As the CFF is developed, these questions can be answered by a number of stakeholders – forward controllers, troops on the ground or airborne assets with designators, the joint fires cell, etc – before it is all collated for development into a fire mission.
Once all this data is brought together, fires co-ordinators are able to ensure the delivery of effects to the battlefield, supporting planned, dynamic, and time-sensitive fire missions. By using a single platform to do this, aided by the SitaWare Fire Support module, SitaWare users can leverage the most current common operational picture to ensure that fires are conducted with the highest degree of accuracy. Operating within a single BMS platform also allows for the requesting and recording of Battle Damage Assessments (BDAs) to be simplified, as greater awareness of resource availability and capabilities exists for commanders.
The addition of this information into a data lake can be leveraged into intelligence products for use by intelligence analysts using software such as SitaWare Insight, giving commanders a full awareness of the tactical and strategic operating environment.
Employing advanced C4ISR solutions such as the SitaWare suite also allows for superior data processing, with data being ingested into the platform using a wide variety of common operational data standards. Similarly, militaries and industry partners can access the SitaWare Software Development Kit (SDK) to integrate solutions into SitaWare’s open architecture if they need to create new API gateways for data transfer.
The use of the SitaWare Fire Support module as an add-on to the SitaWare suite also means that plans and orders can be easily distributed between units and across all echelons of command, helping to ensure mission success and full situational awareness of unit intentions. Other capabilities, such as the chat function, mean that units can continue communicating under difficult conditions – such as high ambient noise levels or where signals are degraded – to ensure that messages are accurately transmitted.
Deploying SitaWare Fire Support Module
Deployable as an add-on for the SitaWare suite, the SitaWare Fire Support module can be easily placed in the hands of those who need to use it most for directing and delivering effects – from planners to gun crews and forward observers. Training and deployment of the system is made easier by its commonality with the SitaWare suite, meaning that only some additional further training in the features of the module is required. This gives users a much shortened training pipeline when compared to training on two separate and distinct systems.
Integration into the wider fires community is also simplified through support for a variety of standards, gateways, and processes. The SitaWare Fire Support module supports the Artillery System Cooperation Activities (ASCA) standard, enabling coalition assets to be easily employed in the fires roles, thereby breaking down the silos that can be created around fire support assets and enhancing coalition operations. Calculations are also performed using a number of NATO protocols for ballistic and meteorological data calculations, which also serves to improve timeliness and trust that the correct data is being delivered to the guns.
Working in cooperation with artillery systems suppliers, Systematic is able to develop interfaces that automatically load the mission data into fire control systems, doing away with the need to manually enter this when it is delivered to the gun crew.