Modern Sensor Technology: Data Management in the Face of the Adversary

Sensor Technology

The ability to not only capture but make sense of data is becoming a more pressing priority every day, especially in today’s multi-domain battlespace. And an important factor in that capture and analysis is the advent of sensor technology and its proliferation in defense. The Modern Battlespace recently covered the importance of modernized sensor technology to multi-domain operations in-theater and a few of the key trends driving its adoption.

Sensor technology’s prominence in defense is something forward-thinking defense organizations like the Army Futures Command are already paying close attention to. “If you just look at the underlying principal of multi-domain operations, everything is a sensor and everything will be a sensor in the future,” stated Major General Maria Gervais, Synthetic Training Environment (STE) Cross Functional Team Director for the Army Futures Command, in an interview with The Modern Battlespace. “And we will have ubiquitous sensing across the board. We’re already seeing it in so many different ways. So, the question is going to be how can you take what sensors are sensing and get that data managed and processed at either the edge or back to where it can be safely processed in order to accelerate a Commander’s decision making cycle and disseminate this decision to platform which will implement that decision – whether kinetic or non-kinetic.”

In order to answer MG Gervais’ question and dig deeper into the technology powering modern sensor technology, we spoke with Cliff Trimble, Business Development Manager at Collins Aerospace. Trimble outlined two key challenges that warfighters are facing on the battlefield when it comes to data management: sheer data volume and disconnected information.

“It’s all well and good having all of this information that’s been collected across the battlespace with countless sensors, but it might not mean anything to anyone if no one is able to make sense of it,” said Trimble. “And while these challenges remain constant across domains, the way they are currently addressed varies depending on the domain.”

This is where concepts like interoperability and open system architectures come into play regarding defense technology adoption. Trimble explained how tools like the SCi-Toolset enable more reliable data sharing not only across different domains, but across different military branches.

“Being able to share current and accurate data seamlessly across domains, branches, and even between different data bases is imperative to the safety and readiness of the warfighter,” stated Trimble. “SCi-Toolset allows you to mitigate that data overload and easily find the data you need when it matters most.” This approach helps warfighters more easily manage tasks by simplifying the workload in-theater which, in turn, increasing visibility substantially around areas that need more support or resources.

Data agility and visibility is especially important as the adversary has become more sophisticated. “The adversary isn’t going to give you time. You need to create it,” Trimble said. He added that over the years, our dynamic in the battlespace has changed markedly, with a more contested and congested airspace in-theater. This specific challenge makes reliable sensor technology more important than ever to mission readiness.

“We need to fight our way in to the adversary’s airspace to get our sensors into the right place at the right time to gather time-critical data,” Trimble remarked. “This offers us only a fleeting opportunity to gather our intelligence data. Other sensors may still be able to ‘stare’ or ‘soak’ the same target, but the true value added by SCi-Toolset is combining these highly valuable fleeting glances into the enemy’s area with collateral intelligence to achieve the Information Advantage over our enemies.”