JED - December 2012 - (Page 42)

Time to Open Up EW and SIGINT By Gordon Hunt and Dr. Ronald Meixner Stovepiping of EW and SIGINT systems has become inculcated into the systems design and procurement process, and it is significantly slowing down technology and innovation adoption. The time it takes to “integrate” a new capability into the broader warfighter environment has become unacceptable. The agile and rapid deployment of SIGINT and EW services requires a rapid integration capability to the wider battlefield environment, if the information is going to be useful to the battlefield commander as well as brigade HQ or higher. Initiatives such as the Tactical Internet and similar network operations system infrastructure developments will enable broader information distribution (but not necessarily sharing) capability. But underpinning these technologies are in fact even greater shifts in systems architecture, design and implementation that will have far-reaching consequences in EW and SIGINT systems design and procurement strategy. Their impact should not be underestimated. “No longer should SIGINT and EW operate on a ‘need to know’ (Information) basis, but instead on a ‘need to securely share’ (Data) basis.” We explicitly call out the difference between information and data because information is contextual between sender and receiver. Current system architectures implicitly assume that they know who is sending the data, who is receiving it, why it is being sent, and how this data can be turned into information. But this is informationlevel stovepiping. It creates brittle infrastructures that don’t respond well to changing battlefield conditions, to the requirement to integrate a new set of services, actuators or sensors. Any implicit knowledge in any system about a sender or receiver and its function creates stovepipes. These stovepipes either limit how far the information can be passed around the system-of-systems (SOS) and still be understood, or they raise integration cost/time barriers because every new system needs to have a unique message interface to every existing system, further exasperating the information stovepipe problem. Message-centric thinking in systems architectures has to be put aside and replaced in a true network operations or tactical internet environment. What is needed is inherent interoperability between all systems, both those built today and those, as yet not envisioned, which will be built tomorrow. As in human interaction, the systems must know the “language” of every other system that is deployed or will be deployed. Unlike humans, each system only needs to know enough of the language to be able to send and receive communication relevant to its function. Computers operate on data. The lingua franca of computers is data. It therefore makes sense to: “. . . make the data definition, both content and context, a first class citizen of a systems architectural specification and thereby drive towards inherent system of systems interoperability.” This requires a cultural shift in procurement, because it now becomes incumbent on the system specifier and procurer to define the system architecture using data modeling – not the industry. Yet it is the industry that knows what data is needed and how it should be specified. So while defense procurement agencies need to own the data model (often referred to as a System Data Dictionary (SDD), it needs to be constructed with the help of the industry. This may not sound like a likely proposition, but it is exactly what leading programs in the Department of Defense (DOD) and UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) have done. In addition, the SDD output of the DOD’s Unmanned Control Segment (UCS) program is already informing The Open Group’s FACE (Future Airborne Capability Environment) standardization effort, which in turn is being adopted by the US Army COE (Common Operating Environment). The 42 The Journal of Electronic Defense | December 2012 THE CULTURAL CHALLENGE There are technical challenges to full information sharing, and this article will cover those. But first we should call out the cultural challenge. The Tactical Internet and similar network operations initiatives will force a new culture into the EW/SIGINT sector, and the sooner it is recognized and embraced the better for the warfighter. The cultural change can be summarized thus:

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of JED - December 2012

The View From Here
Conferences Calendar
Courses Calendar
From the President
The Monitor
Washington Report
World Report
2013 EW/SIGINT Resource Guide
Open Architectures for EW and SIGINT
EW 101
AOC News
Index of Advertisers
JED Quick Look

JED - December 2012