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Warriors and Engineers Partner

February 2006
By Clarence A. Robinson Jr.

The integration of systems and network operations is the focus in the Center for Innovation. The systems involved include warfighting platforms that project across a broad spectrum of requirements: intelligence gathering, missile defense, logistics, battle management and command and control.
Network-centric ingenuity powers robust idea factory.

The large hexagonal building’s Tidewater architecture blends well with its placid Hampton Roads surroundings. Indeed, this bucolic Virginia setting belies the beehive of combat-related activity inside—experiments that are profoundly transforming the way this nation fights wars and protects its citizens.

Called the Center for Innovation, but widely known as the “Lighthouse,” this  $30 million, 50,000-square-foot facility built with corporate funding houses the future of warfare. Varied experiments are constantly underway in critical areas of network-centric operations, force application, logistics, homeland defense and security. The most advanced information technology tools available are integrated with warfighter acumen and battlefield experience in realistic environments to help counter emerging worldwide threats.

Complete with an authentic dome and an operational Fresnel lens, a lighthouse replica installed in the facility’s 54-foot-high atrium ties in with the region’s nautical motif. It provides rich symbolism of a beacon illuminating or shedding light on difficult research problems of the future. The facility combines innovative processes with state-of-the-art technologies as a sturdy analytical testbed to help government and industry experts create new operational concepts. Already, half a dozen independent research and development collaboration arrangements are in progress or have been negotiated with local area commands, military services and federal agencies to use the center’s unique network-centric capabilities.

The center is beginning to focus on urban operations, including ways to counter the threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Part technical, this effort is expanding to encompass the way U.S. and coalition forces operate—their tactics and procedures. An IED Defeat Task Force is expanding across ground, air, maritime and special operations domains. Another high-priority laboratory program involves maritime domain awareness (see page 17), including work with the U.S. Coast Guard, departments of Homeland Security and Transportation and other federal agencies.

Built by Lockheed Martin Corporation, the center also houses a Global Information Grid (GIG) testbed. The objective is to use the GIG to ensure that collaborative solutions developed in the laboratory will push the boundaries of the information era. Collaboration already is providing a powerful impact on the way U.S. operations are planned and executed. In parallel, the corporation’s Global Vision Network electronically connects some 40 of its own far-flung engineering and laboratory centers. This network links 50,000 engineers, analysts and scientists, along with 30,000 software engineers and information technology professionals.

A recent three-year cooperative research and development agreement, or CRADA, between the U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) and Lockheed Martin enables partnering between industry and the military in the Lighthouse and service laboratories. The aim is to develop Joint Command-Future Capabilities. This research program is designed to create a networked, distributed experimentation environment to build the future joint force. Together, JFCOM and Lockheed Martin will explore and seek to identify improvements in command, control, communications, computers and information tools. These are the tools needed to achieve network-centric capabilities envisioned for future commands operating in the GIG environment.

JFCOM’s sponsorship allows the company to use two constructive government models, the Joint Semi Automated Forces (JSAF) and the Joint Warfare System (JWARS). Both JFCOM and the U.S. Navy use the JSAF modeling system for training and experimentation. It places the warfighter in the loop using real or simulated weapon systems such as tanks, ships and planes as well as the warfighter’s command, control and sensor systems. JWARS is much faster than real-time campaign-level simulation used for analysis, and it simulates much larger warfighting groups such as ground force divisions, naval battle groups and air combat squadrons. JWARS also brings logistics and network-centric operations into the scenarios.

JSAF and JWARS have been federated by Lockheed Martin to perform distributed simulations that evaluate network-centric concepts in virtual and constructive simulations.

The location of the Lighthouse, approximately 200 miles from the corporation’s Bethesda, Maryland, headquarters, is by design, according to Maj. Gen. Richard C. “Buck” Marr, USAF (Ret.). He is vice president, Center for Innovation, and is responsible for establishing corporate processes to achieve horizontal integration of network-centric operations that support government customers.

Gen. Marr points out that within a few miles of the center are JFCOM; the U.S. Air Force Command and Control, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center (AFC2ISRC); the Navy Fleet Forces Command, Naval Network Warfare Command and 2nd Fleet; the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Futures Center; the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Atlantic; the Coast Guard Atlantic Area Command and Control Center; the Allied Command Transformation–NATO component for transformation, concept development and experimentation; and NASA’s Langley Research Center.

The general also notes that under the JFCOM CRADA, Lockheed Martin’s industry competitors are permitted to use the Lighthouse with their government sponsors, adding that proprietary protections are in place both for the corporation and for its competitors. Already with more than 100 experiments, the center is full. A new adjacent duplicate facility will be built on land already owned by the corporation, Gen. Marr says. A command pilot with 3,500 flying hours and 171 special operations combat missions, he served as chief of staff for JFCOM before service retirement.

“The center provides the tools, the environment and expertise to help create new operational concepts and potent net-centric capabilities that bolster military effectiveness,” the general explains. The Lighthouse not only provides close proximity but also network connectivity with military commands, national security and related government customers. Initial work focuses on rapid prototyping, collaborative experimentation and exhaustive analyses that address pressing needs.

The center’s design enables commanders, policy makers, operators, analysts and engineers to collaboratively experiment with and assess new operational concepts and capabilities. “This is not a profit and loss center; it is a cost center, a laboratory environment. We are funded through flow-down dollars from business areas and units throughout the rest of Lockheed Martin,” he illustrates. “The company’s horizontal integration organizational structure combines resources and funding to support the center. This approach allows us to establish a cooperative relationship with customers and partners in a nonprofit laboratory setting. The object of the exercise is to bring the network to the warfighter.”

Gen. Marr remarks that defense contractors such as Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and others have modeling and simulation facilities. “However, to us, the center is a new capability on the national security landscape. This is a new acquisition environment. It would be easy to call the Lighthouse a demonstration center, but to those of us who work here, that is a ‘four-letter word.’ True, you must be able to visualize and demonstrate the fruits of your labor. Nevertheless, this is a working environment where we put engineers together with warfighters to explore solutions sets that can fill the gaps in capabilities.”

A lighthouse with an authentic operating dome and Fresnel lens is inside Lockheed Martin’s Center for Innovation in Suffolk, Virginia. The center houses a federation of simulation tools that follow U.S. Defense Department standards and a Global Information Grid testbed to evaluate network-centric operations. Simulations employ humans in the loop in live, virtual and constructive experiments.
Experimentation and analyses are continual within the center testbed, and quantifiable data are produced to answer the “so what questions” that customers will always ask, Gen. Marr continues. The testbed environment does this and uses in-depth simulation and visualization to make the point, to show the results of the work, the experimentation and analysis. The center also hosts a number of secret compartmented information facilities (SCIFs), including a 92-person auditorium built to SCIF specifications. Both unclassified and classified work at various levels of security can be conducted simultaneously within the Lighthouse.

Other commercial companies often bring their products to the center “where we may take the best solutions and integrate them with some of ours. This is all designed to focus on the operational capability of a particular proposal,” Gen. Marr discloses. “Other laboratories around the country focus on technologies at the system level, while we focus on the operational level. This center has a lot of capability, but it is not all about the building; it is also about a very robust broadband secure network that connects all of the Lockheed Martin laboratories and development centers. This Global Vision Network is accredited by the Department of Defense, which allows secure communications with company nodes around the country and government connectivity from a hub in CrystalCity, Virginia.”

The Global Vision Network also is linked to the Defense Research and Engineering Network and the Defense Information Systems Network. “The Lighthouse is the nexus for distributed work that takes place throughout the country via the network. This approach puts the operators and engineers together very early in the development process to attack a problem and accelerate a capability. Then, developmental spirals can spin off the technical advance early to the warfighter. There are three Lighthouse concepts of operation spirals: demonstration, experimentation and collaborative development.

“We know and understand the customer—collectively, there are 487 years of military experience within this organization. The objective is to use this collective expertise to help the customer reach a decision and achieve a capability,” Gen. Marr observes. “The center’s robust analytical testbed is unique, to help government and industry create new operational concepts and net-centric solutions.”

Today’s customers face dynamic new environments where speed and assimilation of data into real-time, actionable information are critical. The Lighthouse is designed to focus simultaneously on a number of related experiments in various sectors of the facility, C. Michael Upson reveals.  He is the director of operations and the center’s principal investigator for the JFCOM CRADA. Part of his assignment involves responsibility for the technical infrastructure—three Global Vision Network nodes; use and development of the modeling and simulation suite of tools; tasking of operational analysis functions; and systems engineering and systems of systems engineering tools. A retired Air Force pilot with 27 years of service, he has an extensive military command and control background.

“We can focus on different experiments and campaigns within various laboratory sectors, including a reconfigurable command and control center. Another sector, as an example, handles homeland defense and security, which is migrating into urban operations,” Upson says. Still another sector primarily focuses on cockpit simulators for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and F-22 Raptor Advanced Tactical Fighter. “From a configurability point of view, experiments in the cockpit sector using its sensor systems can tie in with another sector’s experiments, linking the two laboratories even though they are physically separated by other sectors.” Displays can be simultaneously projected onto large screens in the linked laboratory sectors to focus on collaborative experiments.

Upson stresses that the Lighthouse is helping to break down barriers between engineers and operators by starting a dialogue and facilitating their working together to solve problems. “This helps bridge the technology gap between industry and the warfighter. Historically, the warfighter has depended on systems commands, but if you look at JFCOM, they not only conduct experiments but also are responsible for the joint requirements for combat air forces. TRADOC and Fleet Forces Command also are the warfighter requirements folks in the Hampton Roads area. We operate with the warfighter, but the results of our experiments also influence those who generate requirements, and they are clustered nearby.”

Conversely, through their interface, the requirements people also influence Lockheed Martin to understand ways to better use internal research and development funding and to hire necessary talent that will be required. “We are in the receive mode, and we listen. This is an enlightened way of saying that customers influence us as much as we influence them,” Upson adds. This approach extends to what he calls a new paradigm, where, as an example, the Navy recently provided 12 operators to sit in front of the center’s consoles to participate in experiments. The operators, in turn, could make decisions on which of the features or functions they liked and which they did not.

The Global Vision Network is an asynchronous transfer mode system that operates at 30 megabits per second and will move to 60 megabits per second later this year, Upson asserts. As a U.S. Defense Department accredited network, the Global Vision Network has the necessary government-provided encryption devices. This network helps assuage latency issues in areas such as cockpit simulations and intercepting ballistic missiles in simulated environments, he continues.

“Our next experiment is to determine how the cockpit will function across the net-centric distributed environment. This approach would make every aircraft a sensor platform while en route to or from the target. We know that they can evade radar and drop bombs, but can they work for the benefit of everyone on the battlefield? Until three years ago, stealthy platforms were not required to be interoperable,” Upson says.

In somewhat related experiments, the center used sensors onboard loitering attack cruise missiles en route to a target for nontraditional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to detect hostile forces along flight routes. The weapons transmitted hostile locations before engaging their assigned targets with munitions. Laser radar (LADAR) sensors were employed for the experiment, which was simulated in real time, Upson affirms. A land-launched Loitering Attack Missile, or LAM, and an air-launched Surveilling Miniature Attack Cruise Missile (SMACM)—pronounced “smack ’em”—transmitted imagery and data over a network encompassing an amphibious force at sea and special operations units ashore. Both of the missiles are Lockheed Martin designs.

Separately, in late 2005, the company successfully demonstrated on Air Force ranges in Florida an operator-in-the-loop flight test with its low-cost autonomous attack system, known as LOCAAS. The weapon is a wide-area-search miniature munition using a LADAR seeker.

The Lighthouse’s GIG testbed dramatically enhances the customer’s ability to assess the performance and effectiveness of proposed systems. Creative synergy comes from collaboration among government and industry in a real-world environment, and that is what the Center for Innovation is all about, Upson acknowledges.

Laboratory Networks Spur Transformation

A Joint Command-Future Capabilities cooperation agreement between the military and industry provides a marriage of convenience. This pact brings access for the U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) to a powerful network infrastructure and state-of-the-art laboratory. In turn, the command provides access to warfighting prowess and early entree to technologies from government research programs.

This cooperative research and development agreement, or CRADA, enables each side to accomplish tasks they cannot complete without the other’s help, according to Lt. Col. Dewey Parker, USAF. He is JFCOM’s principal investigator for the CRADA. An MC-130 pilot with special operations experience, the colonel also is the deputy commander, Joint Command-Future Capabilities. Widely known by his “Dew Dog” call sign, he points out that JFCOM also has laboratory status of its own as the Joint Futures Laboratory operating under the aegis of the command’s J-9, the civil-military cooperation directorate.

Through the CRADA, JFCOM has access to Lockheed Martin Corporation’s Center for Innovation, also called the “Lighthouse,” located in a direct line of sight about a mile from the command’s headquarters. The center is designed for analysis and synthesis of network-centric warfare capabilities. Under federal law, CRADAs can be established with industrial, industrial development and nonprofit organizations; universities; state and local governments; and licensees of inventions owned by federal agencies. No government funding is involved.

JFCOM and Lockheed Martin are conducting experiments with the goal of identifying and improving command, control, communications, computers and information tools. The tools are needed to achieve future joint network-centric capabilities in a global grid information environment, Col. Parker contends. “The concept is to develop methodologies that will better support the joint commander. Investigations are being conducted to answer questions about how the future joint task force should be organized. How can we help the commander better exercise joint command and control of forces?

“An important piece of the CRADA is that industry competitors can participate in the Center for Innovation. There are proprietary protections in place to assure integrity of everyone’s information. One of the advantages of this arrangement is that JFCOM can have multiple industry players involved. However, there is only one primary and that is Lockheed Martin,” the colonel says. The CRADA, by design, provides a competitive advantage for the primary in terms of spinning out technical advances from government laboratories such as the JFCOM laboratory.

JFCOM’s people are participating in Lockheed Martin activities and vice versa, with a cross-flow of personnel underway. “From a technical perspective,” Col. Parker reports, “we have a list of experiments that will connect the laboratories over network links.” The command is participating in the Joint Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Defeat Task Force, which includes nine topics. “One of the topics is experimentation support, and it looks like a lot of experiments may be hosted in the Lighthouse. JFCOM will manage and help set up these experiments.

“The research plan attached to the CRADA document encompasses Joint Command-Future Capabilities—this new entity we’ve created as an experimentation environment. Lockheed Martin is a part of that with people, processes, command and control, technologies, modeling, simulation and databases. The objective is to determine the joint task force of the future’s composition and concept of operations in five, 10 or even 15 years,” Col. Parker concludes.


Web Resources
Center for Innovation:
U.S. Joint Forces Command: