Digital transformation in the theatre of operations
Sooner than we realize, military battles will be fought on the basis of a single unified combat network comprised of soldiers, vehicles, command posts and sensors, all of them operating in complete synergy and in near real time. Decision-taking time on the battlefield will be reduced to seconds, providing a critical tactical advantage over the adversary.
This concept is called "collaborative combat" and is based on the use of advanced technologies, in which Thales is leading the way. War has always been collaborative, but in the past, military information was simply exchanged from one unit to another. By connecting all combat vehicles and the sensors they are fitted with, military personnel can share information immediately, reducing the process of detecting and neutralizing a threat to a matter of seconds.
With shorter response times, greater precision and optimized firepower, collaborative combat will combine new vetronic (vehicle electronics) capabilities with the power of radio software to give the advantage to the Armed Forces of the future, even when the adversary is numerically superior and has better knowledge of the terrain. Collaborative combat means going from reasoning-based orders to reflex-based orders, with options analyzed by systems endowed with Artificial Intelligence.
What will tomorrow’s digitized battlefield be like?
Tanks will be interconnected by SYNAPS, the Thales software-defined radio system, so that they can communicate with each other in near real time. They will operate jointly with wheel-mounted armoured vehicles equipped with vetronics (vehicle electronics) to compile and process data from battlefield sensors in high-value combat services and protection.
For example, the vehicle’s optic and electronic system will include augmented-reality software. Combined with the periscope of the armoured vehicle, the crew will have a clear and detailed image of the exterior environment. With acoustic sensors that provide 3D spatial coverage of the area surrounding each vehicle, they can locate a marksman with even greater precision by automatically triangulating the data from the sensors of several vehicles.
The system immediately characterizes the threat and alerts the crew, automatically deploying rounds of smoke and / or flares to protect the vehicle. Special algorithms provide almost instantaneous support in how to respond to the threat. And because all the sensors are interconnected, it knows the exact location and weapon status of each platform. It can thus use this information to compromise the target with the most appropriate form of force.
The concept makes the most of Thales’ mastery of four important advances in digital transformation:
• The Internet of Things (IoT) will connect all players on the battlefield (soldiers, combat vehicles and weapons) through cameras, sensors, satellite positioning systems and computers for a transparent and continuous flow of information. Even the soldiers will be equipped with electronic devices that will supervise important physical functions such as blood pressure or heart rate, and will transmit this information to the local medical teams.
• The use of Big Data techniques will compile data on battlefield action, analyse them and store them on the tactical cloud.
• Cyber protection will provide the necessary cybernetic solutions, such as sensors and firewalls, to detect anomalies, provide protection from attacks and manage and store data securely.
• Artificial Intelligence will provide algorithms for the automatic fusion and analysis of all data to support the decision-taking process.
Thales’ solutions ensure the mission’s preparation and simplify its complexity so that military personnel can concentrate on taking operative and strategic decisions. Thales is already providing live training as well as virtual and constructive training in connected combat. The high-performance simulators can replicate any cabin, environment and mission scenario so that platoons can train in a high-fidelity, immersive virtual operational setting. This will make them more efficient on the battlefields of tomorrow.
By contributing with its technological leadership to perfectly assembling all these elements, Thales is playing out collaborative combat. And this will connect with success on the battlefield.