Suche innerhalb des Archivs / Search the Archive All words Any words

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[] LAT 16.3.02: Ushering In the Warfare Information Age,

Los Angeles Times March 16, 2002

Ushering In the Warfare Information Age

By Peter Pae

Behind triple security doors in an obscure industrial complex, Boeing Co. 
engineers at the firm's little-known but pioneering Anaheim unit are 
quietly working on a system that could alter the future of warfare.

Resembling a war room that seems modeled after a "Star Wars" movie, a 
10-foot-high screen displays a satellite image of a region, with moving 
squares and triangles identifying fighter jets, bombers and spy planes. A 
second screen shows detailed infrared images of a building targeted for 
possible attack. A third provides a live feed from a foot soldier wearing a 
small video camera on his helmet.

The images were part of a mock military operation in an unidentified Middle 
Eastern region but provided a rare glimpse at what Boeing officials believe 
represents the methods of war for the 21st century. What the Pentagon has 
in mind over the next decade represents a huge leap over even the seemingly 
sophisticated battle-management system it has used in the Afghan conflict.

Under the concept known as integrated battle space, U.S. military leaders 
will have unprecedented access to information from anyplace around the 
globe, tracking ships, planes, vehicles and individual soldiers from a 
command and control center that could be thousands of miles away. In 
essence, it would bring together disparate systems so they can talk to one 
another and provide a common picture of the battlefield.

Soldiers would carry hand-held computers linked to satellites that would 
provide not only their own precise location but also where the enemy might 
be. The command center also could transmit detailed maps and images of 
enemy compounds to soldiers anywhere in the world. Instead of radio 
commands, marching orders may come via e-mail.

"It represents a fundamental reversal of the way wars have been fought for 
the past 2½ centuries," said John Pike, director of, a 
Web-based think tank in Virginia.

"Ten years ago, Norman Schwarzkopf had to pack up a small town and move it 
to Saudi Arabia to fight the Gulf War. You won't have to do that anymore. 
It'll be a lot like telecommuting."

Many Accomplishments

And again, engineers in Anaheim are leading the way. A former Rockwell 
International Corp. operation that Boeing acquired in 1996, the unit has 
been a major technology center for decades, developing defense and 
aerospace systems that have reshaped aerospace history.

The guidance and control system for the Minuteman intercontinental 
ballistic missile was developed in Anaheim, altering the course of the Cold 
War. The division also developed major components of the Apollo space 
program that put the first man on the moon. It did much of the pioneering 
work on night vision during the 1970s.

Now, it is the development center for the nation's multibillion-dollar 
missile defense program and is competing to reshape and modernize the Coast 

Last week, the unit won one of its biggest trophies, a contract to develop 
combat systems for the Army that has a potential value of at least $4 
billion over the next five years. As the lead system integrator, a Boeing 
team will draw up plans for a system of new weapons and technologies that 
the Army hopes will turn it into a lighter, faster and more lethal force.

The Army contract was a huge win because it validated a risky push by 
Boeing officials to focus its resources and engineering talent on a 
business that seemed more like a pie in the sky than a potential 
revenue-generating operation.

At a time when most defense contractors were focusing on developing 
next-generation weapons, Boeing two years ago began looking at producing a 
system of systems that would integrate disparate weapons and technologies 
to provide a coherent strategy for fighting a war. A major byproduct of the 
move was the creation of the Battlefield Integration Center, a $16-million, 
11,000-square-foot compound in Anaheim where much of the integrated battle 
space is getting developed and tested.

The timing could not have been better. Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks 
and the subsequent military action in Afghanistan, scores of Pentagon 
officials have visited the Anaheim facility. Army officials cited Boeing's 
work on integrated battle space as one of the reasons for the company 
winning the contract against Lockheed Martin Corp. and General Dynamics 
Corp. Unlike the competitors, Boeing has had few Army contracts.

Quest for Battle Data

Military strategists have been after the Holy Grail of battlefield 
intelligence--the ability to constantly monitor all military 
activities--for decades in hopes of lifting the so-called fog of war, but 
with the recent convergence of advanced communication equipment, highly 
sensitive intelligence-gathering sensors and powerful computer chips, the 
dream is becoming a reality.

"Battles have been won or lost on incomplete information," said Loren 
Thompson, a longtime Pentagon consultant and lecturer of defense policy at 
Georgetown University. "This is one of the ways superior information is 
going to dictate victory."

Some elements of the integrated battle space already are taking shape, 
particularly with military operations in Afghanistan. For the first time, 
the commander of U.S. forces fighting overseas is running the operation 
from within the U.S. at the headquarters of the Central Command in Tampa, Fla.

Some military leaders have said Army Gen. Tommy R. Frank should be closer 
to action. Frank has defended the decision, saying he is getting all the 
information he needs, thanks to the advances in high-speed communications 
and information technology. The distant command center may represent the 
emergence of a new way of fighting, he said.

"We can view and we can access any battle space," Air Force Chief of Staff 
Gen. John P. Jumper said at a recent defense conference. "When air and 
space combine together in the right ways . . . we can find, fix, track, 
target, engage and assess anything of significance on the face of Earth."

But Jumper added, "Right now, I would argue, these are capabilities that 
exists in bits and pieces. It is our job to pull it all together, to be 
able to think in terms of integration."

One vivid example was displayed last fall when, for the first time, the 
White House was able to watch a live video feed of an attack on Taliban 
forces in Afghanistan transmitted by a flying spy drone. The video 
transmission was relayed by satellite to the Florida command center, which 
then sent it on to Washington.

In another mission, an Army special operations soldier was able to call in 
an airstrike, communicating directly with an Air Force bomber. Previously, 
the Army would have had to request a strike through central command, which 
then would relay the information to Air Force command to carry out a 
strike, wasting invaluable time.

Many of the top defense contractors are scrambling to tap the growing 
market for integrated battle space, and all of the armed services are 
developing their own concepts for the technology, also known as network 
centric warfare, but Boeing engineers hope to field a system of systems 
that can be used and seen across all the services.

So far, Lockheed Martin Corp. has been a key player in creating such a 
system for the Navy, while Raytheon Corp. has been looking to fuse many of 
its weapons and systems for the Air Force. Meanwhile, Northrop Grumman 
Corp. is making a hostile bid for TRW Inc. so that it can tap the company's 
space and defense-electronics expertise and have the businesses it needs to 
field its own version of an integrated battle space.

Defense analysts said winning the Army contract was a major boost to 
Boeing's effort in what many believe is the growth business of the future.

Boeing officials said they began talking about bringing together various 
businesses that the aerospace firm operates to provide the integrated 
battle space concept in 2000. The company made it a major business 
initiative as Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld began pushing for 
bringing the military into the digital age.

"We've had some of Rumsfeld's people in here and this has been music to 
their ears," said Roger Roberts, vice president of Boeing Integrated 
Defense Systems. "We believe the vision for [an integrated battle space] 
can be realized within the decade."

The work could be lucrative. Boeing believes that putting together various 
elements of the integrated battle space, including work in unmanned aerial 
reconnaissance aircraft and equipping an older generation of Airborne 
Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft, already represents a market of 
perhaps $7 billion to $8 billion a year. That could grow to more than $20 
billion in the next decade, Boeing officials said.

"We believe this will be a major growth area for us," said James F. 
Albaugh, president of Boeing's Space and Communications unit. He noted that 
one key reason for acquiring the satellite-making business of Hughes 
Electronics for $3.8 billion last year was to tap its expertise in 
space-based communications, which will be integral to developing the 
requirements for an integrated battle space.

Immediately, part of the effort could include equipping airborne tankers--a 
constellation of which is constantly in the air to refuel fighters and 
bombers--with antennae and electronic equipment that allow the aircraft to 
relay data and communications from the battlefield to far-flung command and 
control centers.

"The technology is already here," said Ret. Lt. Gen. Carl O'Berry, a former 
deputy chief for command, control, communications and computers for the Air 
Force and now head of Boeing's strategic architecture unit. "We just need 
to integrate it." 

Liste verlassen: 
Mail an infowar -
 de-request -!
- infopeace -
 de mit "unsubscribe" im Text.