Consolidation and collaboration have been overarching themes across the defense industry in recent years, with private sector leaders joining forces to create more cutting-edge technology for the warfighter. Earlier this year, the merger between United Technologies and Raytheon was completed, bringing together two important leaders of the defense industry to create Raytheon Technologies, perfectly exemplifying this trend.
To learn more about what the merger means for Raytheon Technologies’ customers and progress for the defense industry as whole, we spoke with Mark Russell, CTO at Raytheon Technologies. Russell’s 38-year career at Raytheon Company with a background in electrical and computer engineering afford him a unique perspective on the evolution of defense technology and how it’s adapting to the modern warfighter’s needs.
The breadth of technologies offered through this merger alone positions Raytheon Technologies to remain a top player in the defense space, according to Russell. With technology offerings running the gamut from directed energy and advanced radars, to cybersecurity and commercial communications, warfighter challenges across the board are in their crosshairs. Especially considering that these technologies are platform-agnostic, Raytheon Technologies can address challenges and needs across any and all domains in-theater.
“Thinking about all of the layers of defense and how to best equip the warfighter to operate effectively in today’s congested and contested battlespace is crucial to any defense company’s success,” stated Russell. “Raytheon Technologies is ready to tackle those challenges from all angles.”
Not only does the merging of these two major aerospace and defense companies bring about a more robust technological offering for the warfighter, but tangentially, it also results in increased R&D resources. Russell noted that currently, Raytheon Technologies is the proud owner of more than 40,000 patents and employs more than 60,000 technologists and scientists. The sheer level of talent and knowledge means an immense ability to scale R&D efforts for the warfighter.
Those efforts to bring the latest technologies to the warfighter, whether in the land, air, sea, space, or cyber domain, is why Raytheon Technologies is continuing to innovate in the engineering process. Russell points out that speed of innovation is critical to giving the U.S. advantage over its peer nations who are also investing heavily in technology. That increased need for agility and flexibility has changed the process with a focus on open systems architecture, software-defined systems, and model-based engineering.
“Advanced software is playing a very significant role,” Russell stated. Military branches, according to Russell, are looking for a system to develop the right software for their respective missions along with the ability to sustain the software system after millions of lines of code have been delivered. “That’s the dream,” he said. “Raytheon Technologies is helping our customers advance in this area on multiple programs.”
Russell also sees a shift in optimizing the processes around how technology is developed. In an effort to get solutions into the warfighter’s hands faster, organizations like Raytheon Technologies are embracing model-based engineering. It’s a lean operations approach that incorporates agile methods. Russell explained that this digital thread concept allows “engineers to design a product or solution in a digital model that can then be updated along the way by all of the stakeholders. It is also released as a digital model that can be tested, and then updated as needed.” Not only is this approach cost-effective but it allows for swift integration in-theater.
As more technologies and systems are developed and integrated across the battlefield, Russell predicts that the government will further shift its requirements to procurement. Instead of buying one-off systems or products, they will be looking for “smarter systems” with multiple functionalities. “Instead of procuring one antenna for each function, they will look for one system that will enable radar, surveillance, reconnaissance, communications, electronic warfare, and telemetry.”
Once these smarter systems are in operation, it will require advanced data processing with artificial intelligence and machine learning to quickly identify actionable intelligence. Communication between the systems to take derived data and deliver it to the warfighter to speed up decision making will be the next critical step in winning the joint multi-domain fight. AI and ML also enable systems like UAVs to operate autonomously with less operator intervention, and radios and radars to automatically adapt to interference and jamming to continue effective operation. Raytheon Technologies is prepared to adapt to these shifts and innovate with the warfighter top-of-mind.
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