Cyber Command

On August 18, at the direction of the President, the Department of Defense (DoD) initiated the process to elevate U.S. Cyber Command to a Unified Combatant Command (UCC). The decision is consistent with Title 10 of U.S. Code, section 167b, and the recommendation of the Secretary of Defense.

Emblem of U.S. Cyber Command
Emblem of U.S. Cyber Command

The elevation will mark a significant evolution in the way the department organizes to execute cyberspace missions and comes as a direct result of the efforts of the entire DoD cyber workforce.

Elevation of U.S. Cyber Command from its previous status as a sub-unified command under U.S. Strategic Command reflects the growing centrality of cyberspace to U.S. national security. Raising the organizational status of U.S. Cyber Command is intended to demonstrate visibly DoD’s long-term commitment to cyberspace as a warfighting domain. It also signals the department’s resolve to embrace the changing nature of warfare – thus helping to reassure partners and deter adversaries.

U.S. Cyber Command has matured since its establishment in 2009. This step will make the command even more agile and strengthen its voice in the department.

Today, the Cyber Mission Force is making significant contributions in meeting the department’s toughest challenges, including the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This progress has been possible thanks to the hard work and commitment of the employees of U.S. Cyber Command and the cyber workforce across the department.

Tracking Data

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the NASA’s Tracking Data and Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M) lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 August 18 at 8:29 a.m. EDT. The TDRS-M is the third and final mission in the series of these third-generation space communication satellites to orbit, as part of the follow-on fleet being developed to replenish NASA’s space Network.

The TDRSS is capable of providing near continuous high bandwidth (S, Ku and Ka band) telecommunications services for Low Earth orbiting spacecraft (including the International Space Station) and expendable launch vehicles like ULA’s Atlas V and Delta IV rockets that use the network to receive and distribute telemetry data during flight
The TDRSS is capable of providing near continuous high bandwidth (S, Ku and Ka band) telecommunications services for Low Earth orbiting spacecraft (including the International Space Station) and expendable launch vehicles like ULA’s Atlas V and Delta IV rockets that use the network to receive and distribute telemetry data during flight

«ULA uses the TDRS system as a primary means of receiving and distributing launch vehicle telemetry data during every flight. In fact, the TDRS-K and TDRS-L spacecraft, launched by ULA in 2013 and 2014 tracked today’s launch», said Laura Maginnis, ULA vice president of Government Satellite Launch. «We are absolutely honored to have delivered this core NASA capability and critical national resource for our country».

All six of the newest TDRS satellites have been delivered to orbit on Atlas V vehicles.

This mission was launched aboard an Atlas V 401 configuration vehicle, which includes a 13-foot/4-meter extended payload fairing. The Atlas booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine, and the Centaur upper stage was powered by the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C engine. This is ULA’s 5th launch in 2017 and the 120th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

«Congratulations to our entire ULA team and mission partners at NASA on another successful launch that will enable so many to explore and operate in space», said Maginnis.

The Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) is a space-based communication system used to provide tracking, telemetry, command and high-bandwidth data return services. Microwave communications equipment and gimbaled antennae are the primary payload of each TDRS. The system is capable of providing near continuous high-bandwidth telecommunications services for Low Earth orbiting spacecraft and expendable launch vehicles including the International Space Station (ISS).

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 115 satellites to orbit that aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, unlock the mysteries of our solar system, provide critical capabilities for troops in the field and enable personal device-based GPS navigation.

An Atlas V rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex-41 with NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M). The addition of TDRS-M to the Space Network (SN) provides the ability to support space communication for an additional 15 years

Stryker in Europe

As one of the first Soldiers to shoot a powerful 30-mm cannon from a new Stryker combat vehicle, Staff Sergeant Randall Engler was excited about what the weapon could do for his infantry squad.

A Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle-Dragoon fires 30-mm rounds during a live-fire demonstration at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, August 16, 2017. Soldiers with 2nd Cavalry Regiment spent six weeks at Aberdeen testing and training on the new Stryker vehicle and a remote Javelin system, which are expected to head to Germany early next year for additional user testing (Photo Credit: Sean Kimmons)
A Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle-Dragoon fires 30-mm rounds during a live-fire demonstration at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, August 16, 2017. Soldiers with 2nd Cavalry Regiment spent six weeks at Aberdeen testing and training on the new Stryker vehicle and a remote Javelin system, which are expected to head to Germany early next year for additional user testing (Photo Credit: Sean Kimmons)

«It’s empowering», said Engler, of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, which has asked the Army to give its Stryker fleet more lethality to deter Russia and other near-peer threats. «You’re laying that hate on a target with a bigger round. It’s doing a lot more damage and you’re getting better effects».

Engler and 14 others from the regiment recently traveled from Germany to Aberdeen Proving Ground as part of a six-week test and training event on the new Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle, which is nicknamed «Dragoon» after the unit.

The Soldiers also tested the new CROWS-J system, a Common Remote-Operated Weapons Station that allows troops to fire Javelin anti-tank guided missiles from the safety inside existing Stryker models.

«We try to get users on the platform early on, that’s why there are crews from 2nd Cavalry here now», said Colonel Glenn Dean, the Army’s Stryker program manager, during a media event Tuesday at Aberdeen.

Six Stryker vehicles from each 30-mm cannon and Javelin variant are slated to head to Germany this January, where more 2nd Cavalry Soldiers will be able to share their input. The Army hopes to field the combat vehicles in a forward location next summer when the regiment’s 1st Squadron is expected to go to Poland, Dean added.

 

NEAR-PEER THREATS

The regiment requested more firepower for its 81 Stryker Infantry Combat Vehicles (ICVs) due to the recent military operations of Russia, which has shown hostility in parts of Eastern Europe.

«This capability coming to 2nd Cavalry is directly attributable to Russian aggression and we are actively working with our foreign partners in how to help shape our formation», said Lieutenant Colonel Troy Meissel, the regiment’s deputy commanding officer.

The limited number of American forces stationed in Europe also led to the request. Back in the Cold War, there were roughly 300,000 U.S. Soldiers in Europe. Now, there are only about 30,000, he said.

«How do we, as an Army, make 30,000 Soldiers feel like 300,000»? he asked. «This new ICV-D Infantry Carrier Vehicle-Dragoon is one of the ways that can help us do that».

While the weapon upgrades are not meant to change the Stryker into a fighting vehicle, the new vehicles can help infantrymen be more effective in battle. «It allows us to get to the right place at the right time to close in and destroy the enemy», Meissel said.

 

QUICK ACQUISITION

The acquisition of the 30-mm cannon-equipped Stryker, which began in the fall of 2015, was a relatively quick process. It took about 15 months from the receipt of funds to the delivery of ICV-D prototypes, said Major General David Bassett, program executive officer for the Army’s ground combat systems.

«You’re seeing an acquisition timeline that was not driven by bureaucracy, but was driven by the actual activities and underlying tasks that we needed both our contractors and the Army team to do together», Bassett said.

The Dragoon vehicles also incorporated equipment from other Stryker variants, such as a mature turret that didn’t require much software development and a mature chassis with a suspension that was already proven by the Stryker double-v hull program.

«One of the ways you make acquisition go faster is by picking things that don’t require as much as those activities», he said. «It’s not too long before you’re hit with a very low probability of success if you’re bringing in too many new things that are unproven».

The process, he added, demonstrated his office’s commitment to get systems to Soldiers in a timely manner. «I’m not interested in developing systems, I’m interested in delivering them», he said.

While additional resources have already been asked to equip a second brigade with the new vehicles, the general expects there could be modifications to the vehicle as more 2nd Cavalry Soldiers give their feedback.

«It would be more efficient in terms of resources to wait but our adversaries aren’t waiting», he said, «so we’re looking to lean forward to provide capabilities sooner rather than later».

Cost savings in hardware, though, as well as novel approaches to business operations and leveraging partner investments in the Dragoon vehicle program, have freed up money for the regiment to add another weapon system to its arsenal – the remote Javelin system.

Stryker vehicles with the CROWS-J system will roll out to the regiment at the same time as the ICV-D vehicles, according to Dean, the program manager. «I didn’t have to go back to the Army or Congress and ask for another dollar to execute this», he said.

 

TIGHT SHOT GROUP

During the recent 30-mm cannon testing at Aberdeen, Soldiers saw a vast improvement in accuracy compared to the .50-caliber/12.7-mm machine gun, which is mounted on many Stryker vehicles.

«With this, we’re seeing a shot group about the size of a basketball», Sergeant 1st Class Nicholas Young, senior NCO of the Army’s Stryker program, said of the remote-operated cannon hitting a target at 5,905.5 feet/1,800 meters away. «If I aim at something, I know I’m going to hit it and I’m going to do damage to it».

Soldiers do lose some situational awareness after designers had to accommodate the large cannon on the unmanned turret. Vision blocks in the front of the Stryker have been added and there’s the possibility of putting cameras on future vehicles, depending how 2nd Cavalry formations react to the vehicles in testing.

«It will take some getting used to», Young said of the loss of situational awareness, «but eventually we’ll be able to find some solutions to integrate into the vehicle to assist with that».

If given the choice between a hatch to look out of and a 30-mm cannon capable of shooting 200 rounds per minute, many Soldiers may prefer the extra lethality.

«I know it makes me feel more comfortable out there because it’s a bigger round», Engler said, adding it could force enemies to think twice before attacking. «It’ll make them second guess because now it’s going to be a substantially different fight».

Army Stryker vehicles with 30-mm cannon & Javelin upgrades

First-of-Class

The U.S. Navy converted USNS Lewis B. Puller (T-ESB-3) to a U.S. naval warship, commissioning the Expeditionary Sea Base, USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB-3) during a ceremony at Khalifa bin Salman Port in Al Hidd, Bahrain, August 17.

The Military Sealift Command expeditionary mobile base USNS Lewis B. Puller (T-ESB-3) departs Naval Station Norfolk to begin its first operational deployment. Puller is deploying to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. Navy and allied military efforts in the region (U.S. Navy photo by Bill Mesta/Released)
The Military Sealift Command expeditionary mobile base USNS Lewis B. Puller (T-ESB-3) departs Naval Station Norfolk to begin its first operational deployment. Puller is deploying to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. Navy and allied military efforts in the region (U.S. Navy photo by Bill Mesta/Released)

Puller is the first U.S. ship to be commissioned outside the United States. With its commissioning, the U.S. Navy adds yet another warship towards its goal of having a larger, more capable force. The ship’s reclassification provides U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and U.S. 5th Fleet greater flexibility to better meet regional challenges.

Vice Admiral Donegan, commander of Naval Forces Central Command said, «The Puller isn’t just another ship, but a revolutionary concept; a ship that provides us a key platform that will provide continuity to a variety of operations», he continued saying, «Named after the most decorated Marine in American history, the USS Lewis B. Puller will provide greater operational flexibility to 5th Fleet, forward-deployed as the first ship built specifically for the purpose of serving as an expeditionary sea base. As such, it will augment our amphibious forces, not replace them, mine countermeasure forces and provide an expeditionary sea base for maritime security operations throughout the region».

The need for new solutions to new problems in the 5th Fleet area of operations continues to grow and Donegan recognized the challenge.

«As the security environment becomes faster paced, more complex and increasingly competitive, with the ever-growing and evolving challenge of asymmetric threats from state and non-state actors alike, the Navy has a growing need to station more diverse and capable warships around the globe. Commissioning this expeditionary sea base, the USS Lewis B. Puller, will allow the Navy and Marine Corps team to meet the threats in the region head on», said Donegan.

Puller’s namesake, Lt. Gen. Lewis Burwell «Chesty» Puller, was the most decorated Marine in the history of the U.S. Marine Corps. He is one of only two men, and the only Marine, to be awarded five Navy Crosses. He fought in Haiti and Nicaragua, as well as several key battles in World War II and the Korean War.

«For the most part, Puller spent much of his time in the Pacific», said Lieutenant General Dave Beydler, commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Central Command. «Why was he there? Because that is where the fight was … I would argue that if he lived in our era, he would have spent a majority of his time in this region, the CENTCOM area of responsibility. I’m glad to have Chesty Puller back where the fight is».

Captain Adan G. Cruz is the USS Puller’s first commanding officer. Per naval tradition, Cruz read his orders before addressing those in attendance.

«It is really an honor to be part of a team and part of a crew with great Sailors and great civilian mariners», said Cruz.

Puller’s crew of nearly 150 Sailors and civilian mariners work in concert with one another as did those on the ship’s predecessor, USS Ponce (AFSB-(I) 15) to extend U.S. Naval Forces Central Command’s maritime reach in 5th Fleet by supporting a wide variety of missions including counter-piracy operations, maritime security operations, humanitarian aid, disaster relief and crisis response operations.

PC-21 first flight

In a recent ceremony that marked a significant milestone for the AIR 5428 Pilot Training System, Lockheed Martin celebrated the Chief of Air Force first flight of the in-service PC-21 aircraft.

Australia’s Chief of Air Force pilots a PC-21 aircraft taking his first PC-21 in-service flight in East Sale, Australia, to mark the significant milestone for the AIR 5428 Pilot Training System (Photo credit: Australia Department of Defence)
Australia’s Chief of Air Force pilots a PC-21 aircraft taking his first PC-21 in-service flight in East Sale, Australia, to mark the significant milestone for the AIR 5428 Pilot Training System (Photo credit: Australia Department of Defence)

The occasion was celebrated at a media event hosted by Australian Minister for Defence Senator the Hon Marise Payne, in East Sale, Australia. Also in attendance was the Hon Darren Chester MP, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, highlighting the significance of the program to the Australian Government.

Vince Di Pietro, chief executive for Lockheed Martin Australia attended the event along with AIR 5428 partners Pilatus Aircraft and Hawker Pacific.

«We are excited to celebrate this momentous occasion with the CAF and recognise this marks the beginning of training for Australia’s fifth-generation air capability», said Vince Di Pietro. «This milestone is a great achievement to all involved and we celebrate the Australian Defence Force’s first flight in service and acceptance of the first six of 49 PC-21 aircraft, as the mainstay trainer for Australia’s pilot training program for decades to come. Combining the PC-21 turboprop training aircraft with state-of-the-art training simulations and an electronic learning environment, Australia’s new Pilot Training System will prepare Australia’s next-generation pilots for mission success».

The AIR 5428 Pilot Training System is an integrated solution tailored for all future pilots of the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Australian Navy and the Australian Army.

«Lockheed Martin Australia leads the delivery of integrated solutions for all future pilots of the Australian Defence Force», said Amy Gowder, vice president of Training and Logistics Solutions for Lockheed Martin’s Rotary and Mission Systems business. «This milestone is an important achievement, and confirms the Lockheed Martin-led team is on track to deliver a world-class pilot training solution to the Australian Defence Force».

Under the AIR 5428 contract, Lockheed Martin is providing overall project management for the pilot training system and delivering a family of integrated ground-based training technologies. Pilatus Aircraft is providing 49 PC-21 turboprop training aircraft and through-life engineering and airworthiness support, while Hawker Pacific is providing maintenance services and fleet support, and leveraging its established supply chain in Australia.

Signed in December 2015, the initial seven-year AIR 5428 Pilot Training System is valued at AU$1.2 billion, with performance-based options to extend the value and length of the contract for up to 25 years.

AFTRS-R terminals

The U.S. Air Force has awarded Northrop Grumman Corporation a contract to upgrade existing radio terminals aboard the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) fleet and replace them with Air Force Tactical Receive System-Ruggedized (AFTRS-R) terminals. AFTRS-R assures capability for the Joint STARS fleet and those interacting with the weapon system to receive intelligence reports, including threat warnings in hostile environments, ensuring undiminished battle management in support of warfighters in the air, on the ground and at sea.

Northrop Grumman to Integrate Air Force Tactical Receive System-Ruggedized on Joint STARS
Northrop Grumman to Integrate Air Force Tactical Receive System-Ruggedized on Joint STARS

AFTRS-R provides data feeds from airborne and overhead electronics intelligence collectors and allows Joint STARS to detect and track a host of mobile threats, including enemy air defense and theater ballistic missile assets. The AFTRS-R capability will modernize the Integrated Broadcast Service by replacing the current Commander’s Tactical Terminal/Hybrid-Receive Only (CTT/H-R) radio. The modification also addresses cryptographic modernization and diminishing manufacturing source (DMS) issues with the CTT/H-R radio.

«One of the benefits of our 32-year partnership with the United States Air Force on Joint STARS is that we have an in-depth understanding of the E-8C fleet and its mission in support of combatant commanders globally», said Bryan Lima, director, manned Command, Control & Intelligence plus Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C2ISR) programs, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. «The AFTRS-R modification is another demonstration of our joint commitment to fleet sustainment while providing uninterrupted mission support to the warfighter until the recapitalized fleet is fielded».

The AFTRS-R contract is a separate delivery order under the indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity Joint STARS Systems Improvement Program (JSSIP) III contract awarded by the U.S. Air Force to Northrop Grumman in October 2013. Other modifications under JSSIP III to maintain 21st-century mission readiness include the Global Imagery Server, which allows for the display of worldwide imagery data on all Joint STARS operator work stations, and the Automatic Identification System that will provide Joint STARS with a permanent, integrated solution for maritime identification of participating vessels.

«Our mission is to ensure our combat commanders have the highest degree of situational awareness in the battlespace. Over the past 20 years, our government-industry team has successfully delivered on a variety of advanced, highly affordable capabilities to the fleet. The Global Imagery Server, Automatic Identification System and AFTRS-R are all great examples of how we will continue to ensure our troops remain well-ahead of the threats», said Colonel Raymond Wier, Program Manager, C2ISR, Battle Management, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, U.S. Air Force.

Joint STARS offers battlefield commanders real-time situational information, while simultaneously transmitting target locations to aircraft and ground strike forces. The fleet has been operating at surge levels since 2011 and has flown more than 130,000 combat hours since 9/11 supporting operations globally, including Operation Inherent Resolve over Iraq and Syria. Joint STARS is the only all-weather, long-range, real-time, wide area surveillance and battle management and command and control weapon system in the world.

Estonian exercise

US Army Soldiers of the 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division and the 175th Wing, Maryland Air National Guard trained with NATO Allies during a combined aerial-ground exercise near Jagala, Estonia on August 10, 2017.

A US Army A-10 Thunderbolt II «Warthog» belonging to the 175th Wing, Maryland Air National Guard, lands on a stretch of highway during an exercise near Jagala, Estonia on August 10, 2017. The exercise was a chance for the public to see NATO forces working together as a part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, which is a NATO mission involving the US and Europe in a combined effort to strengthen bonds of friendship and to promote peace (Photo taken by Private first class Nicholas Vidro, 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)
A US Army A-10 Thunderbolt II «Warthog» belonging to the 175th Wing, Maryland Air National Guard, lands on a stretch of highway during an exercise near Jagala, Estonia on August 10, 2017. The exercise was a chance for the public to see NATO forces working together as a part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, which is a NATO mission involving the US and Europe in a combined effort to strengthen bonds of friendship and to promote peace (Photo taken by Private first class Nicholas Vidro, 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

The exercise consisted of US CH-47 Chinooks, escorted by US UH-60L Black Hawks, dropping off infantrymen with the British Army’s 5th Battalion, The Rifles, 20th Armored Brigade on their mission to secure a civilian highway. They were able to practice these specific air maneuvers the day before during a separate exercise that seized an objective and acquired a high value target at Saase Training Area, Estonia.

The 3-10 CAB is currently in country as a part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, a NATO mission involving the US and European Allies and partners in a combined effort to strengthen bonds of friendship and to deter aggression.

This event was an opportunity for US, British, and Estonian soldiers, as well as local law enforcement, to come together under a unified command to successfully land A-10 Thunderbolt II «Warthog» planes in a civilian area. British Army Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Ridland, commander of the Enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group, explained the importance of combined events like this.

«This is all about air-land integration. This exercise comes a week after Vice President Mike Pence visited Estonia and spoke about how Enhanced Forward Presence is the embodiment of NATO in many respects. What we’ve got today is my soldiers working with American helicopters and planes demonstrating operations with our Allies», he said

This marks the third time the Maryland Air National Guard has been able to complete this event successfully, thanks to the teamwork between US, British, and Estonian forces on the ground. US Army Lieutenant Colonel Spencer Burkhalter, deputy chief of the Office of Defense Cooperation in Tallinn, Estonia, spoke on what needed to be done to make this mission viable.

«The planning took over six months to make this happen as successfully as in the past. On the Estonian side, there was a lot of ground work to cover. Their military police worked with local police to close this road. On the American side, the A-10 pilots planned the flight mission. In addition to those elements, the British component provided security for the airfield in an assault exercise conducted before landing», he said.

After the British infantrymen created a defensive perimeter around the area, the Warthogs began their descent, and after landing were assessed by a maintenance crew before taking off on the same strip. Ridland spoke on how this military display affects the public perception in Estonia.

«Here you have many people, families and the like, and for them this is an exciting thing to see. It’s also a reassurance to the public that NATO is here, their country is secure, and they don’t need to worry about anything», he said.

US Forces assist British ‘Rifles’ in Estonia

Korean peninsula

After eight months of intense training, members of the 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade successfully completed a Patriot missile defense system modernization effort that will provide continued protection from potential North Korean aggression.

Soldiers assigned to Battery D, 6th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment test and validate the recent upgrades to a Patriot launching station August 3 at Osan Air Base, South Korea. The 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade just completed the largest Patriot modernization project ever conducted outside a U.S. depot facility (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Staff Sergeant Monik Phan)
Soldiers assigned to Battery D, 6th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment test and validate the recent upgrades to a Patriot launching station August 3 at Osan Air Base, South Korea. The 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade just completed the largest Patriot modernization project ever conducted outside a U.S. depot facility (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Staff Sergeant Monik Phan)

«In coordination with contractors from Raytheon and the Lower Tier Project Office, the brigade carried out the largest Patriot modernization project ever conducted outside a continental depot facility», said Steven Knierim, Raytheon project manager.

«The purpose of the battalion netted exercise was two-fold. First, it was to validate the systems to ensure everything worked and met the industry standard for performance», said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Tara Gibbs, 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade Patriot modernization project officer. «The second was to qualify the Soldiers and crews on the new equipment».

As part of the training, the batteries networked into the battalion data link architecture from geographically dispersed locations around the peninsula and conducted air battles. Each battery crew was required to complete a series of competency tests to demonstrate proficiency.

«Prior to the exercise, we spent three weeks split between formal classroom training and hands-on learning», said 2nd Lieutenant Nathan Jackson, Company C, 6th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment fire control platoon leader. «The contractors taught us how to isolate faults in order to better diagnose problems in case the equipment goes down».

According to Jackson, one of the biggest benefits of the modernization overhaul was the replacement of many legacy systems and updating outdated technology. The combination of the two improved the tactical capabilities and reduced maintenance requirements for the missile defense system.

«For the Soldiers that work in the engagement control station, one of the smaller but more comfortable enhancements was the ergonomic improvements», said Jackson. «Touch screen maneuverable displays, along with improved adjustable seats, make long shifts more endurable».

Throughout the modernization process, the brigade carefully balanced the ‘Fight Tonight’ mission in the Korean theater of operation while rotating batteries through the improvised depot at Suwon Air Base.

The brigade is scheduled to modernize their platform of Avengers in the coming months as part of an ongoing plan of enhancing air defense capabilities on the Korean Peninsula.

Readiness and modernization remain fixtures among the Army’s top priorities, both of which are initiatives 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade is addressing as the brigade upgrades their Patriot fleet. Upon completion of the largest Patriot modernization project ever conducted outside a depot facility, the Dragon Brigade will operate with the most technological advanced equipment within the Air Defense Artillery community. Furthermore, the brigade will execute a comprehensive new equipment training cycle to maintain Fight Tonight readiness throughout the transition. This article is part of a three-part series that will follow the modernization and readiness effort as it materializes.

The first ATACMS

Lockheed Martin has delivered the first Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missile to the U.S. Army from the company’s new production facility in Camden, Arkansas.

The Block IA Unitary delivers a monolithic high explosive warhead using GPS guidance and has a range of 186.4 miles/300 kilometers
The Block IA Unitary delivers a monolithic high explosive warhead using GPS guidance and has a range of 186.4 miles/300 kilometers

Lockheed Martin is under contract to deliver 124 new ATACMS missiles to the U.S. Army and an international customer. The ATACMS program is in full-rate production at Lockheed Martin’s Precision Fires Production Center of Excellence in Camden.

Concurrent with production efforts, Lockheed Martin is nearing completion of a development contract with the U.S. Army that further enhances existing ATACMS missiles. The modifications include upgrades to the missile electronics, and complete the qualification of a height-of-burst proximity sensor, which provides increased area effects on targets.

«ATACMS has demonstrated unparalleled system performance and reliability for our customers», said Scott Greene, vice president of Precision Fires at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. «These latest ATACMS rounds will support Army readiness, and provide a critical new precision engagement capability to our international customers».

ATACMS is the U.S. Army’s only tactical long-range, deep precision-strike surface-to-surface weapon system. ATACMS missiles can be fired from the entire family of Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) launchers, enabling battlefield commanders the capability to operate in contested environments.

Lockheed Martin has produced more than 3,800 ATACMS missiles, with more than 20 years of on-time deliveries. More than 600 ATACMS missiles have been fired in combat, and the system has demonstrated extremely high rates of accuracy and reliability while in theater. Each ATACMS missile is packaged in a Guided Missile Launch Assembly pod.

Augmented reality

The development of advanced learning technologies for training is underway. Linking augmented reality with live training will enable units to achieve the highest levels of warfighting readiness and give valuable training time back to commanders and Soldiers.

A Stryker Vehicle Commander in a local training area interacts in real time with the avatar of a Soldier participating remotely from a collective trainer (Photo Credit: U.S. Army illustration)
A Stryker Vehicle Commander in a local training area interacts in real time with the avatar of a Soldier participating remotely from a collective trainer (Photo Credit: U.S. Army illustration)

The U.S. Army must train to win in a complex world that demands adaptive leaders and organizations that thrive in ambiguity and chaos. To meet this need, the Army has developed Force 2025 and Beyond, a comprehensive strategy to change and deliver land-power capabilities as a strategic instrument of the future joint force. The successful implementation of this strategy requires a new training environment that is flexible, supports repetition, reduces overhead and is available at the point of need.

A joint effort between the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and several entities – University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies, Combined Arms Center-Training and Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation – are working to research, prototype and eventually deliver the Synthetic Training Environment, otherwise known as STE.

STE is a collective training environment that leverages the latest technology for optimized human performance within a multi-echelon, mixed-reality environment. It provides immersive and intuitive capabilities to keep pace with a changing operational environment and enables Army training on joint combined arms operations. The STE moves the Army away from facility-based training, and instead, allows the Army to train at the point of need – whether at home-station, combat training centers or at deployed locations.

«Due to the rapidly expanding industrial base in virtual and augmented reality and government advances in training technologies, the Army is moving out to seize an opportunity to augment readiness», said Colonel Harold Buhl, ARL Orlando and ICT program manager. «With STE, the intent is to leverage commercial advances with military specific technologies to provide commanders adaptive unit-specific training options to achieve readiness more rapidly and sustain readiness longer».

Buhl said the intent is to immerse Soldiers in the complex operational environment and stress them physically and mentally, in order to «make the scrimmage as hard as the game», as General Martin Dempsey, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, once remarked.

This training environment delivers the next generation of synthetic collective trainers for armor, infantry, Stryker and combat aviation brigade combat teams. These trainers will result in lower overhead costs and will use advanced learning technologies with artificially intelligent entities to simultaneously train BCT-level and below. This multi-echelon collective training will be delivered to geographically distributed warfighters, at the point of need, for both current and future forces.

«As the Army evolves with manned and unmanned teams and other revolutionary battlefield capabilities, STE will be flexible enough to train, rehearse missions and experiment with new organization and doctrine», Buhl said.

Leveraging current mixed reality technologies, STE blends virtual, augmented and physical realities to provide commanders and leaders at all levels with multiple options to guide effective training across active and dynamic mission complexities. STE will provide intuitive applications and services that enable embedded training with mission command workstations and select platforms.

The Synthetic Training Environment will combine live training participants with computer generated forces and units training remotely via collective trainers, allowing commanders to train beyond the constrictions of local training areas (Photo Credit: U.S. Army illustration)
The Synthetic Training Environment will combine live training participants with computer generated forces and units training remotely via collective trainers, allowing commanders to train beyond the constrictions of local training areas (Photo Credit: U.S. Army illustration)

«This capability coupled with the immersive and semi-immersive technologies that bring all combat capabilities into the same synthetic environment, add to this quantum leap in training capability, the geo-specific terrain that STE will use in collaboration with Army Geospatial Center and you have the opportunity to execute highly accurate mission rehearsal of a mission and multiple branches and sequels», Buhl said.

STE adaptive technology supports rapid iterations and provides immediate feedback – allowing leaders to accurately assess and adjust training – all in real time. With a single open architecture that can provide land, air, sea, space and cyberspace synthetic environment with joint, interagency, intergovernmental, and multi-national partners, Army multi-domain operations are inherent with STE.

An increasingly complex element of the land domain is the expansion of megacities. In the coming decades, an increasing majority of the world’s population is expected to reside in these dense urban areas. Technologies in development by ARL for STE will provide the realism of complexity and uncertainty in these dense and stochastic environments. STE is intended to evolve and enhance readiness in megacities by replicating the physical urban landscape, as well as the complex human dynamics of a large population.

«It enables our formations to train as they fight using their assigned mission command information systems, and all other BCT and echelons above BCT warfighting capabilities», Buhl said. «Operational informative systems and the training environment systems will share an identical common operating picture; enabling seamless mission-command across echelons».

Ryan McAlinden, director for Modeling, Simulation and Training at ICT, said his team has been working with ARL, the TRADOC capabilities manager, Combined Arms Center for Training and PEO STRI for the past year to help inform the requirements process for the STE.

«The team has been researching and prototyping techniques and technologies that show feasibility for the one world terrain part of the program», McAlinden said. «The hope is that these research activities can better inform the materiel development process when the STE is formally approved as a program of record».

By leveraging technology to provide the means to train in the complex operating environment of the future, integrating technologies to optimize team and individual performance, and providing tough realistic training that is synchronized with live capstone events and gives commanders options for accelerated and sustained readiness, STE is transforming Army training to achieve readiness and win in a complex world.

«As we develop, demonstrate and transition technologies across the U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Command that provide solutions to tough Army problems, we never lose sight of focus on Soldiers and commanders», Buhl said. «These men and women deserve the very best in technology and more importantly in our respect for their leadership, initiative and ingenuity in the use of that technology. STE has tremendous opportunity for the Army if we develop and deliver with that focus».

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory, currently celebrating 25 years of excellence in Army science and technology, is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities for decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the Joint Warfighter and the Nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.