The 805th Combat Training Squadron’s Shadow Operations Center-Nellis, also known as the U.S. Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System Battle Lab, recently experimented with joint partners that helped evolve a new joint airspace management and joint fires capability at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
Working with the U.S. Army’s Mission Command Battle Lab and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the ShOC-N hosted and collaborated on a joint experiment of the Air Space Total Awareness for Rapid Tactical Execution, or ASTARTE, system, an advanced warfighting innovation project.
As the Air Force’s premier command and control battle lab, the ShOC-N supports the development, advancement, and maturation of key technologies and capabilities designed to compress the kill chain for joint and coalition warfighters.
ASTARTE is a DARPA program, with Army and Air Force sponsorship, designed to enable efficient and effective airspace operations and deconfliction in a highly congested battlespace. ASTARTE automates the ability to provide a real-time common operational picture of airspace in and above an Army Division to reduce the time required to execute time-sensitive joint fires. Raytheon Corporation developed the artificial intelligence-enabled software to support airspace synchronization and tactical decision-making with a modular approach to allow ASTARTE functionality to seamlessly plug into existing Army and Air Force command and control systems.
“The ASTARTE program highlights the opportunity of integration at ShOC-N. Software developers from Raytheon, DARPA, and the C2 operators successfully worked through automation to and from fielded systems from Solipsys, Lockheed Martin, and others to show what’s possible when you bring motivated partners together,” said Lt. Col. John Ohlund, 805th CTS commander.
Army and Air Force warfighters simulated a division-level Joint Air Ground Integration Center, or JAGIC, to evaluate the ASTARTE software in an air-ground conflict using both live data from the Air Force’s Red Flag exercise and simulated data produced by the ShOC-N. In addition to Army role players, Air Force air battle managers acted as an Air Force tactical C2 node, in this case, a Control and Reporting Center, assessing ASTARTE information sharing needed to enhance real-time battle management decision making.
Joint warfighters ran ASTARTE through various combat scenarios and JAGIC battle drills to evaluate the program’s ability to make sense of multiple data streams to create a unified common operational picture and to make tactical recommendations for enhancing joint fires. Additionally, this event provided a critical opportunity to assess the system as a decision aid to augment or potentially replace legacy C2 systems. Recent ASTARTE system enhancements included improvements to the user interface and role player training, placing a greater emphasis on “transparency” of the processes by which the system generates potential courses of action.
“In comparison to previous test events, we observed significantly reduced reliance on legacy C2 systems while using the ASTARTE software, and the role players reported a greater understanding of how the ASTARTE system executes tasks,” said Dr. Mary Schurgot, ASTARTE program manager in DARPA’s Strategic Technology Office.
The 805th CTS and additional program stakeholders successfully evaluated ASTARTE software, identified operational considerations and future improvements, and facilitated a strategy to transition the DARPA program to the Army and Air Force.
“For the Air Force, this was all about contributing to the continued evolution of future warfighter capabilities – and it’s really great to see the invaluable role the 805th CTS plays in facilitating the ABMS Battle Lab work with joint partners to bring DOD [Department of Defense] innovation efforts to Soldiers and Airmen in the field, furthering our mission to shape multi-domain command and control moving forward,” said Col. Michael Lake, 505th Command and Control Wing deputy commander, Hurlburt Field, Florida.