JADC2 will be very similar to a commercial network, with data clouds, many signal relays and nodes around the world that collect and contribute information. But adapting this trade approach to a military environment requires something more – namely security and resilience.
The data, which will pass through JADC2, will allow the military to better plan and execute its movements on land, at sea, in the air and in space. This makes information a major goal for adversaries – not just to intercept it, but to change it and throw military operations off course.
Raytheon Technologies already has a strong presence in secure communications in the military. Collins Aerospace, Raytheon Technologies business, provides secure HF, VHF and UHF radios,, satellite voice and data communication systems; and congestion resistant data connections. The business is also building on two decades of work in Link 16 – the tactical data link network used by US and NATO forces – to demonstrate its global connectivity from a lower Earth orbit.
Raytheon Missiles & Defense, another business of Raytheon Technologies, works with R&D organizations across the military to use cutting-edge approaches such as software-defined openings, intelligent information dissemination and multi-level security — a way to ensure operators have access to the right data in the right networks. These methods would help to connect platforms and synchronize their actions over extremely long distances in a contested environment.
This type of work gives the company a broad view of communications systems throughout the military – and with it valuable knowledge on how to put JADC2 into action in the long run.
“Our competitive advantage is that we start with these real estates. We have capabilities on all of these platforms, “said Ryan Bunge, Collins’ vice president of communications, navigation and guidance. “We have this visibility in all the efforts of the services … we live and breathe there every day.”
The key, he said, is to make these systems adaptable, flexible and easy to upgrade to meet future service needs – even those not yet defined. Collins, for example, has invested in software-defined radio stations that can add capabilities through fast, frequent system updates; RF (radio frequency) products that perform multiple functions, and open systems architecture, a design approach that allows for quick and efficient modifications.
“We incorporate it into the products we have today and invest in it in the future. It’s not just about planes and ships – it’s about UAVs and paraphernalia – said Bunge, using military terms for consumables, unscrewed and remote-controlled vehicles. “We also offer connectivity on those platforms where you can’t put a 200-pound computer mounted in a trunk.”
Ensuring the integrity of highly sensitive military broadcasts is the work of secure communications experts at Raytheon Intelligence & Space. Their products include a line of Advanced, extremely high frequency or AEHF satellite communication terminals, along with arrays of antennas, modems and cybersecurity tools that can be installed on many platforms and work in many areas.
“We make the communications equipment that the government uses when the message has to pass unambiguously – without ‘if,’ ‘and’ or ‘but,'” said Mark Hutchins, executive director of the secure communications business. “We are already supplying a good part of the existing communication infrastructure to the Ministry of Defense for many of the highly encrypted missions. Part of JADC2 is trying to figure out how to spread this level of encryption to different platforms. “
His team must also ensure that the equipment is strong enough to operate and survive military missions, he said.
“If you have a plane that makes Mach 1, and it tracks satellites that have a secure data connection, the type of tracking that is included is very different from the type of tracking that is required for a cell phone that travels 55 miles in an hour on the interstate, ‘said Hutchins. “Military equipment must be very strong.”
Not only that, it must be undetectable; Unlike commercial wireless modems, which are designed to reveal themselves to anyone looking for them – consider connecting your phone to wi-fi at a friend’s house – military communications equipment should do just the opposite.
“If you say ‘here I am,’ you are declaring yourself a target,” Hutchins said. “We have to be very well encrypted and very unlikely to be detected.”
But he is far from saying that the defense industry should build the network itself. Rather, he said he wanted to establish partnerships with commercial companies that have experience in building with the speed and scale required by JADC2.
“We understand the security implications, while they may not be well prepared for it. They, on the other hand, have a little more agility, “Hutchins said. “The combination of these two is a unique opportunity.”