Integrated-fires capabilities are a central part of the asymmetric advantage our Navy, joint, and coalition forces bring to a fight. They include capabilites that disrupt adversary command and control, communications, computing, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems; deliver electronic payloads that limit an enemy’s freedom of maneuver and action; and enhance the ability of our own forces to place ordnance on target. It integrates lethal and non-lethal fires, underpinned by superior battlespace awareness and assured command and control, to provide commanders an expanded set of warfighting tools especially important in anti-access and area-denial (A2/AD) environments, like Air-Sea Battle.
Several trends drive the U.S. military’s need for integrated fires. These include the dramatic improvement and proliferation of long-range, smart weapons and manned and unmanned sensors that can limit our access and freedom of action within operational areas, the emergence of space and cyberspace as contested warfighting domains, the ability of non-state actors to employ destructive capabilities against our military forces, and advances in commercial information technology that have produced less expensive, more capable, and more interconnected components that have made their way into military systems worldwide.
The increased reliance of nations and non-state actors on the information environment (i.e., EMS and cyberspace domain) creates both challenges and opportunities for the Navy. Opportunities come with the significant improvements to our C4ISR, targeting, and combat-systems capabilities. Challenges come with the increased vulnerability of these systems to disruption, deception, and exploitation. In addition, unparalleled use of the EMS and cyberspace for radios, wireless networks, satellites, radars, sensors, data links, and other electronic equipment increases competition for resources, and it requires the Navy to be more flexible and agile in how we use the spectrum to create combat advantage. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert called the EMS and cyberspace an “imminent domain” in the pages of this publication almost two years ago, and the Navy is moving out to merge and master those realms through its development of integrated-fires capabilities.
There are three key aspects of integrated fires: using the EMS to facilitate kinetic fires, using the EMS to deliver non-kinetic fires, and coordinating kinetic and non-kinetic fires to achieve offensive and defensive effects.
Facilitating Kinetic Fires
The Navy is using the EMS to better integrate targeting and fire-control capabilities in a way that will increase Navy and joint weapons range, effectiveness, and lethality. The capabilities of Navy Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air, in particular, open the way for a new way of operating by leveraging networked sensors, radars, combat systems, and weapons to overcome single-platform limitations and deliver kinetic fires much farther down range, in contested areas, and against more advanced threats.
As a central part of integrated fire control, the Navy will deploy the first squadron of E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft next year, equipping the Fleet with a two-generation leap in capability over the existing E-2C aircraft. As the “Eyes of the Fleet,” the E-2D will enable carrier strike groups to detect threats from over the horizon and maneuver surface and air forces to put the right weapons on target. The Navy is also fielding solutions to improve datalink capacity, and we are developing waveforms that will net together sensors to provide more timely and accurate tracking and combat identification information. In addition, we are fielding solutions that will improve data-link capacity and sensor integration. Network-enabled weapons, also in development, will be able to receive in-flight updates to improve targeting and engagement of moving targets in the maritime domain.
Networking sensors, radars, and combat systems is only the first step in integrated fire control. With the exchange of greater amounts of information at more rapid rates, the Navy is investing in automated data-fusion engines and decision aids to put operators “on-the-loop,” instead of involved in manually intensive data correlation. These capabilities to improve decision superiority are essential to both enabling kinetic fires and delivering non-kinetic fires.
Delivering Non-Kinetic Fires
Non-kinetic fires include electronic warfare (EW) and cyberspace operations. Non-kinetic fires use energy in the EMS and information in cyberspace as a weapon, and they leverage the EMS and cyber domain as critical maneuver space. We consider operations in the EMS and cyber domain part of electromagnetic maneuver warfare (EMW). The increased reliance of commercial and military systems on wired and wireless networks and constantly evolving technologies that demand a greater share of limited EMS resources require the Navy to reinvigorate its focus on the operational art and science of EMW.
EMW requires Navy forces to understand, control, and command the EMS and cyberspace. Our forces must understand the signature of blue (naval, joint, and coalition), red (enemy), and white (commercial/civilian) entities in the spectrum. They must control how Navy forces appear (or do not appear) to others in the spectrum. This includes the ability to manage electronic emissions, deconflict frequency assignments, exploit atmospheric conditions to our advantage, and agilely maneuver through the full range of the spectrum. These tools enable us to hide in plain sight and create surprise or confusion to our advantage. Finally, our forces must command the spectrum to create lethal and non-lethal effects. Non-kinetic decoy, deception, disruption, and destruction capabilities are complementary to and on par with kinetic capabilities in delivering combat advantage to Navy, joint, and coalition forces.
The Navy leads the joint force in providing airborne electronic attack capabilities. Next-generation jammer (NGJ), the Navy’s future airborne electronic attack pod that will replace the existing ALQ-99 pod on the EA-18G Growler, will deliver non-kinetic fires that can serve as a weapon on their own, or implement penetrating Navy and joint kinetic effects. The advanced sensors, automated data fusion, and sophisticated resource allocation management of NGJ will improve capabilities for suppression of enemy defenses, standoff and escort jamming, and non-traditional electronic attack against threats across a wider range of the EMS. When the Growler employs NGJ, this non-kinetic weapon will deliver electromagnetic energy that will ensure U.S. air dominance against complex, integrated air defenses, and assure freedom of maneuver in A2/AD environments.
We are also improving electronic attack capability in our surface fleet by upgrading signals collection and exploitation, threat warning, and defense systems to incorporate active electronic attack capabilities. Stove-piped information architectures, different data-classification levels, and varying frequency ranges challenge our ability to seamlessly counter threats in different parts of the EMS. The Office of Naval Research and Navy labs, warfare centers, and systems commands are leading innovative efforts to network disparate sensors, create interoperable information architectures, and automate data sharing between C4ISR and combat systems. One initiative, Real-Time Spectrum Operations, will help sailors adapt spectrum usage in real time to respond to changes in the electromagnetic environment and operational requirements. Another—integrated topside (InTop), improves spectrum sharing and dynamic spectrum resource management across radar, EW, and communication systems while reducing size, weight, and power requirements above and below deck. Other efforts will leverage software-programmable payloads for rapid capability insertion, introduce automation and decision tools for EW battle management, and develop directed energy systems to revolutionize battlefield ordnance.
Cyber capabilities are another asymmetric tool in our non-kinetic toolbox. As enemy weapons and systems increasingly incorporate digital technology, the realm of cyber warfare extends beyond traditional computer networks. The Navy is developing cyber payloads as an alternative and complement to kinetic weapons. These can be less costly, but equally effective, at countering enemy C4ISR, targeting, and weapon systems that rely on digital technology and networks. The Navy is working closely with the U.S. Cyber Command, the Department of Defense, and the Fleet to develop a skilled cyber workforce, concepts of operation, and necessary authorities to deliver cyber effects at the operational and tactical levels of war.
Non-kinetic fires allow our forces to manage conflict escalation, conserve high-risk limited-quantity conventional weapons, and reduce collateral damage. They can create tailored, focused effects to disrupt enemy targeting solutions, limit enemy freedom of maneuver, prevent the enemy from ever firing its weapons, or simply create confusion.
Coordinating Kinetic and Non-Kinetic Fires
Our vision is for non-kinetic and kinetic fires to be fully integrated within our combat systems. This requires assured command and control, including assured positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) information; sophisticated awareness of the battle space, to include in-depth understanding of the EM and physical environment, the operation of enemy C4ISR infrastructure, and the current physical disposition of enemy forces and intentions; and automated battle-management aids (BMAs) that can help our sailors fuse all this information together, develop courses of action, and take decisive action faster than the enemy.
The Navy leads the Department of Defense on provisioning PNT information. The U.S. Naval Observatory produces the universal time constant, which is the common time standard for all U.S. military forces and defines and disseminates the earth-orientation parameters and celestial-reference frame that underpin geo-location information required for accurate targeting. The Navy is improving and hardening its GPS-based PNT service to support real-time PNT data services for navigation, C4ISR systems, and kinetic and non-kinetic weapons.
We are just starting development of sophisticated BMAs. Battle management is how commanders decide where, when, and how to apply capabilities against specific threats. It is required in mission planning but becomes essential in operational execution to allow the real-time synchronization and optimization of resources to execute multiple, disparate engagement sequences. As the fog of war sets in, automated BMAs will help commanders identify the right kinetic or non-kinetic weapon, or combination of weapons, capable of efficiently and effectively defeating enemy threats. To do this, BMAs require networked and coordinated sensors to automatically feed target tracks, force positions, intelligence and environmental factors, combat-identification data, and weapon data in real-time to tools that can assess the situation and recommend to decision makers—or when time constraints mandate, assign to combat systems—the best weapon target-pairs.
There is tremendous opportunity for industry and government to innovate new solutions that improve interoperability among systems and databases and deliver automated data fusion, predictive analytic tools, and decision aids, like BMAs. These solutions must be rooted in open-architecture designs so we can decouple individual system elements to respond in an agile fashion to new threats and technical trends. We cannot afford (fiscally and operationally) to reengineer proprietary code or redesign a complex system every time a new threat emerges or we want to add new sensors, data links, or combat systems to our networked force.
The Navy is refining requirements in multiple warfare areas to encourage platform agnostic, interoperable solutions. We are moving toward common computing environments afloat and ashore and data interoperability across mission areas and applications. This includes taking steps to overcome internal stovepipes so we can better integrate national, joint, and coalition sensor data into Navy systems and deliver tactical Navy data to our partners. Interoperable data and systems, automated data fusion, and decision aids will help our sailors match weapons to targets and fight through the fog of war.
Integrated Fires as Information Warfare
The inclusion of integrated fires capabilities in information dominance represents a shift in Navy thinking from platforms to payloads, networks, and information. Furthermore, the way we are leveraging new sensor, data link, EW, and cyber capabilities represents a shift in how we think about information in warfare to how we employ information warfare. This fully leverages technological advances to deliver integrated kinetic and non-kinetic warfighting effects. It ultimately requires a new way of operating in which commanders can visualize the entire battle space, understand enemy intent, select the best kinetic or non-kinetic weapon from their capability toolbox, and be assured that the desired effect is achieved as intended without collateral damage.
Responsibility for this kind of information warfare extends beyond the Navy’s named information-warfare community. It touches the entire Navy Information Dominance Corps (officer and enlisted), which consists of Information Warfare/Cryptologic Technician, Intelligence /Intelligence Specialist, Information Professional/Information Systems Technician, Meteorology/ Aerographer’s Mate, and Space professionals. These communities individually, and more powerfully as a corps, deliver asymmetric warfighting tools and ensure conventional tools reach the intended target to deliver the desired effect. Responsibility does not end there, since information warfare touches all warfare communities. Platforms and kinetic capabilities rely on the EMS and cyberspace to deliver effects, whether through a combat system, radar, communications antenna, maintenance and logistics system, or other electronic means. Navy strategists, operational planners, and tacticians need to understand the art and science of this rapidly advancing warfare area to ensure the Navy’s information dominance over the enemy and ultimate operational success.
The Fleet has taken notice. In addition to standing up a new Information Dominance type commander this year, it is developing and evolving concepts of operation, training, and experimentation for EMW and other mission areas to incorporate information-warfare capabilities into how we fight. By training to and exercising techniques that blend kinetic and non-kinetic effects, Navy sailors will hone their skills in the operational art as the technical science evolves.
It will take teamwork, energy, and creative thinking over the long-term to achieve our integrated-fires vision, but the women and men of our Navy should never find themselves in a fair fight. Integrated fires will ensure our forces always have decisive combat advantage.