One of the most consistent pain points discussed across the defense community is the dire need for better connectivity throughout the kill chain. With more connected systems across domains and concerted initiatives focused on bridging communication gaps in-theater, the importance of collaboration between industry and defense becomes more and more apparent. The JADC2 Experimentation & Demonstration IPT team at Collins Aerospace champions this need for collaboration and more agile innovation to put the necessary technology directly in the hands of the warfighter.
To learn more about their thoughts on efforts like Combined Joint All Domain Command and Control (CJADC2) and the necessary approaches to innovation to move the needle there, we hosted a round table discussion with the team’s General Manager Brad Neuville, Air Force Lead Alex Datzman, and Army and SOCOM Lead Chadwick Ford. This team delved into how they are working to sidestep much of the expected red tape of the demonstration and acquisition process by shedding the traditional hurdles for such a business unit.
“To put it simply, we’re focused on going fast and demonstrating relevant kill chain integration capabilities,” stated Neuville in his candid overview of the team’s mission. “The intent of standing up this organization is to mirror the streamlined acquisition approaches the DoD is taking to accelerate capability enhancements to the warfighter. We are focused on actively demonstrating relevant capabilities – not just operating from theoretical scenarios through classroom presentations. By establishing a demonstration team with service–level focus, we aim to show how CJADC2 mission problems can be solved with relevant technology today.”
Here’s what Neuville and his team had to share about how they contribute to the progress of CJADC2 efforts and excellence across the defense market as a whole:
The Modern Battlespace (TMB) Editors: How would you say the focus on CJADC2 has shifted defense leaders’ expectations for innovation in the battlespace? How has it changed priorities?
Alex Datzman: This team believes that CJADC2 is an acknowledgment of a new reality. We must out-innovate our adversaries. We must develop new architectures for command and control that simultaneously disperse vulnerability and increase our capacity to achieve information dominance and decision superiority in aggregate. And we must compress kill chains in some cases by orders of magnitude.
This is not the sort of reality you thrive in solely by creating a few monolithic systems that swoop in to save the day for everyone else. These also aren’t problems you can solve in a programmatic vacuum. The systems and systems of systems that the services will field need to excel in joint and coalition environments and they need to enhance operations with legacy and future systems by design rather than as an afterthought.
This reality is giving rise to a more collaborative environment between industry and our defense partners. They expect us to have some skin in the game, to break out of some of the traditional patterns of how we help them solve tough problems.
To that end, we’re seeing a desire for the industry to deeply understand the future battlespace and move out at increased risk on generating solutions to highly multi–dimensional problems. Once we believe we have an answer, we’re seeing another big push to validate the operational value of our solutions in complex and realistic environments and to get them into the field as soon as possible. Ultimately, this idea of high-risk experimentation and operationally relevant demonstration is at the heart of what our team was created to do, and we believe this is the way to best face our new reality.
TMB Editors: How does this team support ongoing efforts around CJADC2?
Chadwick Ford: As a company, we are leveraging our broad array of capabilities that have commercial and military applications to provide solutions for CJADC2. We are looking holistically at the problems the warfighter is facing, and we are attempting to provide them with solutions, not just products. Our solutions focus on understanding the warfighter requirements and employment methods, analyzing their gaps, finding ways to bridge those gaps, and providing them clear paths to comprehensive solutions. It is critical that we understand that their requirements are threat-driven, mission effects–based methods.
A key aspect of our approach is the organization has no profit and loss commitments, allowing us to focus on identifying solutions across all services, as well as leveraging other products from industry or DoD Programs of Record (POR). Our approach is to decompose real–world kill chain problems through mission engineering and operational analysis and then connect relevant capabilities from across the company and industry partners to provide solutions to the customer.
While our businesses and advanced technology organizations at Collins Aerospace will continue to focus on new and innovative solutions, our team will continue to focus on better understanding the customer’s wants and needs. This informs the prioritization for other business units and ensures they present DoD with solutions that meet the modernization requirements. Essentially, our aim is to accelerate the fielding of relevant technologies with proven operational benefits to the warfighter through aggressive experimentation and demonstration.
TMB Editors: What are some of the demonstrations this organization has currently in the works that align with CJADC2 efforts?
Brad Neuville: This year we plan to do demonstrations showing how even disadvantaged tactical edge platforms land soldiers can effectively and affordably connect to CJADC2 by demonstrating a common data environment by meshing together different networks and multiple security levels. Additionally, we plan to build on this mesh demonstrations and add key sensor integration later in the year to show a full multi-domain and multi-service kill chain integration from the sensor to shooter reducing human interaction and shortening the kill chain by an order of magnitude.
We also can’t overstate how much great work has been done by various teams across Collins Aerospace already. Our initial work heavily leverages these and integrates them together. We’ll be releasing more information about these soon, so stay tuned!
TMB Editors: What would you say are some of the key elements to successful modernization in the battlespace?
Ford: All of the things we’ve discussed above are critical and we are firmly aligned with the DoD modernization strategy. However, no one company can solve all the challenges that CJADC2 presents. Open systems are crucial to being able to pull together best of breed capability at the pace demanded by the customers. Acquisition agility, rapid demonstrating capabilities, service lab integration, and participation in key demonstration events and exercises are critical to better DoD–to–Industry collaboration.
TMB Editors: Anything else about this effort that you’d like to add?
Datzman: A key part of our approach is to analyze the objective end state with robust operational analysis utilizing a modeling and simulation environment that can realistically represent threats, missions, and environments. One of the challenges of CJADC2 is that investigating, capturing, and truly understanding how so many pieces fit together is particularly difficult especially when realistic physical effects can make or break mission success. We have some impressive operational analysis capabilities on the team to experiment with those complex interactions and discover valuable insights for the DoD.
By decomposing the problem and modeling scenarios and vignettes we can evaluate measurable objectives that solve warfighter challenges. Once we discover a meaningful technology or architectural change, we leverage our ability to rapidly demonstrate and validate its effectiveness and use agile acquisition methods to get them into the hands of the warfighter. We then fold these new capabilities back up into the bigger picture and start the process again, looking at different angles of the same problem or entirely new problems altogether. This iterative process results in the rapid deployment of effective and proven solutions into the field while still keeping an eye on the end state and the contributions to the whole.