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The networked battlefield moves a step closer

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May 31, 2005

The networked battlefield moves a step closer

The networked battlefield moves a step closer

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June 1, 2005 The network centric battlefield moved a step closer this week with the first live-fire testing of the Quick Reaction Unitary (QRU) Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) using a network centric integrated High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launcher. If it sounds complex, that’s because it is, but the big idea is to save time when a time-critical target is identified in the battle space. The test went like this: an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) identified a Time Sensitive Target (TST), relaying the information to the proper system node in order to generate a "call-for-fire" message to a Battle Command Cell (BCC) prototype. The BCC prototype provides embedded battle command capabilities, including command and control, situational awareness and direct sensor feeds of target imagery. The UAV provided geographic location data to the BCC, which then ordered a fire mission for an ATACMS QRU off the network-integrated HIMARS launcher, significantly reducing the time to hit the target. The test proved that in those defining moments when seconds matter, a directly networked HIMARS firing ATACMS in the command and control structure will prove to be a considerable force multiplier.

In addition to the standard performance objectives of a TACMS QRU missile test, with a 'conditioned cold' missile, the Program Composition for Embedded Systems (PCES) concurrently conducted a Capstone demonstration of network centric technologies. PCES is a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program for which Lockheed Martin provides technology development and integration. All test objectives were achieved.

"Complex problems require integrated solutions and whole systems thinking," said Scott Arnold, director - ATACMS programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. "HIMARS and ATACMS provide the most responsive, all-weather precision strike capability available today, and these systems enhance joint operations with exceptional accuracy and stand-off range. The Capstone demo shows how PCES infrastructure makes it possible to easily integrate existing components into a networked architecture so that ground systems, such as HIMARS, can play a crucial role in the prosecution of Time Sensitive Targets by accepting fire missions from sensor assets."

In this test, an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) identified a Time Sensitive Target (TST), relaying the information to the proper system node in order to generate a "call-for-fire" message to a Battle Command Cell (BCC) prototype. The BCC prototype provides embedded battle command capabilities, including command and control, situational awareness and direct sensor feeds of target imagery. The UAV provided geographic location data to the BCC, which then ordered a fire mission for an ATACMS QRU off the network-integrated HIMARS launcher, significantly reducing time factors.

"When extraordinary reliability is required, we pride ourselves in leading the integration effort in order to bring immediate benefits to the warfighter," said Ron Abbott, vice president - Tactical Missiles at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. "This test proved that in those defining moments when seconds matter, a directly networked HIMARS firing ATACMS in the command and control structure will prove to be a considerable force multiplier."

"This demonstration is a prime example of leveraging emerging technologies to provide system of systems solutions to the warfighter," said Wendy Underwood, vice president of Business Development at Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems & Sensors' Tactical Systems line of business, which provides software integration for the Battle Command Cell prototypes.

The ATACMS QRU Unitary Missile was combat proven in joint operations during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and is the latest addition to the current ATACMS family of munitions. The government furnishes a proven unitary warhead, which Lockheed Martin integrates into new ATACMS QRU missiles for precision attack out to 300 kilometers. The ATACMS QRU variant provides the capability to attack high-payoff, time sensitive targets with limited collateral damage.

The HIMARS First Unit Equipped (FUE) will be completed at the end of May. HIMARS is the newest member of the Multiple Launch Rocket System family offering MLRS firepower on a wheeled chassis enhancing its ability to operate in urban and mountainous environments. HIMARS carries a single six-pack of rockets or one Army Tactical Missile Systems missile and can launch the entire MLRS family of munitions.

Gizmag has previously reported on the

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
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