Collaborative combat: the winning combination

The strategic paradigm is shifting away from asymmetric warfare. With technologically sophisticated insurgents and risks of high-intensity conflict between states, armed forces today need to measure up to a less permissive environment than ever. And with defence budgets under pressure, building up the size of the military force to take on new threats is no longer an option.

Real-time information has the power to keep a military force one step ahead and assured of victory. Technologies already exist to increase the combat effectiveness of soldiers, vehicles and sensors by fusing them into a single warfighting instrument, operating in complete synergy and in real time. We are entering the age of collaborative combat.

 
Connected vetronics for leveraged effect

Imagine tanks operating alongside wheeled armoured vehicles in a war zone. Interconnected by software-defined radio, they can communicate in near-real time and adapt to the evolving situation. But there’s a limit to what humans can do. Even the most experienced warfighter needs several seconds, possibly minutes, to detect and positively locate a threat, then respond or relay the necessary information to another unit. This is precious time that hostile units can exploit to their advantage. By networking all the fighting vehicles and the sensors they carry, information can be immediately shared and the entire process of detecting and neutralising a threat can happen in a matter of seconds.

 

New vetronics capabilities will make this possible. An optronics system and augmented reality software coupled with an armoured vehicle’s periscopes will provide the crew with a clear and detailed picture of the outside environment. With acoustic sensors providing 3D spatial coverage of the area around each vehicle, it will be possible to locate a shooter with even greater accuracy by automatically triangulating the sensor data from multiple vehicles.

The system will immediately characterise the threat and alert the crew, and could automatically deploy smoke rounds and/or flares to protect the vehicle. Special algorithms could provide almost instantaneous decision support on how to respond to the threat. And because all the sensors are interconnected, the system knows the exact location and weapon status of each platform — and could use this information to automatically slew the turret of the best-placed platform to engage the target with the most appropriate form of lethal force.

With shorter response times, greater precision and optimised firepower, collaborative combat will combine new vetronics capabilities with the power of software radio to give tomorrow's armed forces the edge — even when the adversary is numerically superior and has a better knowledge of the terrain.