Demonstrating the Battlefield Tech of the Future at Northern Edge 2023

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U.S. Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. David Allvin and Royal Australian Air Force Air Vice- Deputy Chief of the Air Force Marshall Glen Braz tour a KC-135 Stratotanker during the Air Senior National Representatives Forum at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, May 16, 2023. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Julia Lebens.

The U.S. military strongly believes that it needs to train like it fights. What does that mean today? That means conducting exercises in the regions, arenas, and environments that would most closely mimic those service members would face in a conflict. That means training as a joint, all-domain force. It also means conducting training exercises with those that would invariably be fighting beside our troops in any future conflict – our international allies and coalition partners.

Starting in May and ending in July, the U.S. Pacific Command is leading an incredibly important training exercise known as Northern Edge. This extensive and comprehensive training exercise is meant to develop the highly capable, highly ready service members needed to compete and win in conflicts with increasingly sophisticated, near-peer adversaries.

But participation in Northern Edge isn’t limited to the military. Industry partners, like RTX, are also invited to participate and demonstrate the latest in military and commercial technologies that can deliver mission-critical capabilities for service members.

The company sent teams from their Collins Aerospace and Raytheon defense business units to support and conduct critical capability demonstrations that will help U.S. armed forces connect and share mission data in powerful new ways.

We sat down with Lora Magliocco, director of experimentation and operational assessment at Collins Aerospace, and Mike Borck, director of technology transfer at Raytheon, to learn more about the experiments they are overseeing during the Northern Edge 2023 training exercises, and the technologies they are demonstrating.

The Modern Battlespace (TMB): Why is Raytheon Technologies participating at Northern Edge this year?

Lora Magliocco: We’re building on the momentum and maturity of our solutions for JADC2 operations. The RTX businesses have had a successful string of demonstrations the past few years at similar exercises like Valiant Shield 2022 and EDGE 2022.

At Northern Edge, we will test our networking, connectivity, and intelligence delivery capabilities by adding new waveforms and security levels into the mix that our open systems will need to use in distributing mission data.

RTX demonstrates data synchronization capabilities, including automated machine-to-machine communications and artificial intelligence/machine learning software, onboard the Raytheon Multi-Program Testbed aircraft at Northern Edge TAC-1 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

Mike Borck: Totally agree. Northern Edge 23 is practically another link in the chain where we will test a suite of capabilities in a bigger network involving participants from all the U.S. armed forces and multinational partners. 

TMB: What is Raytheon Technologies’ role in this year’s event? What technologies will the company demonstrate?

Lora Magliocco: There are several experiments that the respective business unit teams are conducting and supporting over the course of the exercise, but our shared, primary goal is to demonstrate survivable capabilities that allow U.S. and coalition forces to sense, make sense of, and act, on high volumes of mission data in a decentralized, distributed C2 network.

“Any future conflict will almost certainly involve a coalition of our closest allies and international partners, so exercises like Northern Edge are an opportunity to train and practice with these allied forces.” – Mike Borck

This is the first time we will enhance the network with Integrated wideband BLOS capability and directional communications for disadvantaged platforms. These capabilities show how assets within threat areas can receive updated tasking and provide actionable information back to the joint force.

Mike Borck: We’re also demonstrating artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) software that can securely orchestrate sensors through machine-to-machine communications. This enables the creation of rich geolocated, multi-intelligence data packages that can provide enhanced threat awareness across multiple platforms and domains to subscribed users and decision-makers at strategic and tactical levels.

TMB: Why is Northern Edge so important today, considering the current threats and adversaries facing our military?

Mike Borck: These joint exercises are ideal proving grounds for the kinds of technologies and mission capabilities the Department of Defense (DoD) and U.S. military commands envision under the Joint All-Domain Command and Control strategy.

U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, Royal Air Force, and Royal Australian Air Force aircraft sit on the flight line at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska during Northern Edge 23-1, May 11, 2023. U.S. alliances and partnerships remain a critical defense relationship and a central pillar of all nations’ national security, based on shared values and a common commitment to peace and security. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

The INDOPACOM area of responsibility (AOR) is also a strategically important one for today’s DoD. Today’s military faces a number of emergent and reemergent pacing threats. Many of those adversaries are within this AOR, making it an incredibly important – if not essential – area of focus for the DoD.

Lora Magliocco:  And our teams recognize that a connected air mobility force is paramount to success in highly contested environments. What we are demonstrating at Northern Edge is an incremental step towards JADC2, which shows how we can facilitate connectivity across the joint force.

TMB: Is this event restricted to just U.S. military services, or do allied nations and coalition partners also participate? If so, why is it important to run joint exercises with these allied nations?

“…connected air mobility force is paramount to success in highly contested environments. What we are demonstrating at Northern Edge is an incremental step towards JADC2, which shows how we can facilitate connectivity across the joint force.” – Lora Magliocco

Mike Borck: Northern Edge is one of the largest multinational exercises. Any future conflict will almost certainly involve a coalition of our closest allies and international partners, so exercises like Northern Edge are an opportunity to train and practice with these allied forces.

Lora Magliocco:  A joint force of coalition partners also grows the amount of data and information sources available for conducting operations in highly contested environments. Northern Edge is a huge opportunity for our teams to push the limits of our solutions and stress test our intelligence gathering, data sharing, and connectivity solutions. Success in this environment establishes confidence in our ability to foster interoperability across a joint force in all domains.

To learn more about battlefield communications for joint, multi-domain operations, click HERE.