Airborne superiority through collaborative, connected combat
The bombing attack on the marketplace seemed all too familiar.
But, this time, there was no suicide bomber; a drone carrying a grenade delivered the deadly blast and the first news on it was fake, with ‘false flags’ leading down blind alleys to dead ends to throw defence forces off the insurgents’ trail.
At the same time , stealth fighters were entering national airspace, in close formation with regular airliners , heading to a political leader summit not far from the market place.
“These are just examples of the new world of ‘hybrid warfare’ that is constantly changing” says Bruno Depardon, Thales’ director of Airborne strategy in Defence Mission Systems activity. “Adversaries aim to create advantage from the surprise of the unexpected, using different fields of action. Through aerial connected collaborative combat, we can detect and potentially transform those surprises into opportunities. And so informational superiority will continue to mean operational superiority”.
"Through aerial connected collaborative combat, we can detect and potentially transform those surprises into opportunities. And so informational superiority will continue to mean operational superiority" Bruno Depardon, Thales’ director of Airborne strategy in Defence Mission Systems activity
The digital revolution’s technologies make collaborative combat possible through sharing and applying vast amounts of information, instantaneously making sense of what they mean, allow to anticipate and offering strategic choices for engagement.
Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics, Connectivity and Cybersecurity are making it all possible; taken together, they make up an ‘Internet of air combat’ where critical information can be shared and applied continuously.
“Thales experience and expertise across all of these technologies makes us a key actor into putting the concept into place. We are at the heart of collaborative combat because secure and efficient connectivity is in our DNA”.
What’s ‘collaborative’ and why
Bruno Depardon explains how ‘connected’ combat creates truly ‘collaborative’ combat through several types of interactions.
- By connecting forces amongst themselves through secure communications.
- By connecting the forces to the equipment through human/machine interfaces that are intuitive to use. AI and Data Analytics continuously turn enormous amounts of raw data into clear information and strategic choices. Bruno Depardon cites the Talios dual function reconnaissance and targeting pod for fighter jets, or Radar and electronic warfare suites as examples. AI and Data Analytics transform raw information from sensors into recognized objects and their behaviors.
- By connecting equipment from different sources and platforms.
- By connecting new equipment with legacy equipment.
In the new age of asymmetric war of technologies, the winner will be the one who knows how to make ‘the whole greater than the sum of its parts’ through connection for true collaborative combat.
And so, Thales is working as a key player to create a useful battlefield picture out of huge amounts of diverse data through a true ‘Internet of air combat’.
“We aim to turn the ‘fog of war’ into a clear mosaic that continuously gives the most useful picture of the battlefield." Bruno Depardon, Thales’ director of Airborne strategy in Defence Mission Systems activity
The advantages are clear:
- Increased connectivity with a quantum leap in communications exchanges, and higher performance and in an aerial environment often constrained by high speed, extreme climate and remote distances.
- A big boost in the capacity to store and organise data.
- A collaboration across platforms and sensors, including radar and optronics.
- A strengthened ‘partnerships’ between humans and equipment and between humans and AI.
- A greater degree of protection of communication through enhanced cybersecurity.
“We aim to turn the ‘fog of war’ into a clear mosaic that continuously gives the most useful picture of the battlefield. That is the key for assuring informational superiority and so operational superiority in a world of constantly-changing threats”.
“When you consider all of these objectives of aerial collaborative combat, and the variety of equipment and technologies involved, you realise why Thales is uniquely positioned as a partner with so many defence equipment suppliers across all platforms, whether for satellites, sensors, optronics, connectivity, cybersecurity, AI and data analytics” concludes Bruno Depardon