U.S. Army Poised for Next Phase of AI-Enabled TITAN Intelligence Node
As the Army moves into the program maturation phase of the Tactical Intelligence Targeting Node (TITAN) program, it will ask the selected vendor to provide two variants, a basic, more expeditionary system, and an advanced version with a direct downlink to space-based data.
Brig. Gen. Ed Barker, the Army’s program executive officer for intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors (PEO-IEW&S), conducted a virtual media roundtable December 5 to brief reporters on TITAN and other programs within his portfolio.
TITAN is the Army’s first intelligence ground station enabled by artificial intelligence and machine learning and is considered a key component of the service’s multidomain operations and joint all-domain operations vision. The system is being designed to deliver a next-generation, expeditionary, scalable, and maneuverable platform at echelon to address the Army’s number one gap in large-scale combat operations: deep sensing. By accessing sensor data from multiple sensors simultaneously across the space, high altitude, aerial and terrestrial layers, TITAN provides situational awareness and situational understanding across operations, according to an Army website. Fusing that data and using advanced analytics to deliver targetable intelligence to lethal and nonlethal networks reduces the sensor-to-shooter gap and enables long-range precision fires, aviation and mission command, the website explains.
“That's one of the foundational elements from the intelligence modernization efforts within the Army. As many of you probably know, Titan is that scalable, and expeditionary intelligence ground station, really looking to provide fused sensor data that enables long-range precision fires. And it’s really a crucial component of the deep sensing aspect of things as well as the ability to store it in the sensor-to-shooter loop,” Gen. Barker said.
The system is being developed under a rapid prototyping strategy to develop and field it as rapidly as possible. Last year, the Army awarded two $36 million TITAN contracts to Palantir Technologies and Raytheon Technologies. Program officials allowed soldiers access to the system over the course of 2023 for what are described as soldier “touch points,” allowing service members to provide feedback on how to improve the system. In 2024, the service intends to award a prototype maturation phase contract to a single company and to issue the first TITAN Advanced system to a unit that has not yet been chosen.
“Our next step, in second quarter of 24, what we anticipate is the selection in award to one of those vendors to move forward into what we're calling a prototype maturation phase, PMP, which is the next phase of that rapid prototyping. And during this PMP maturation phase, the selected vendor will further mature their prototype [with] more soldier touch points. And then we intend to add some this capability issue to designated units to allow them to refine the feedback in the TPPs [tactics, techniques and procedures], in which it will be employed,” Gen. Barker offered.
He noted that different versions of the ground station will be included. The main difference between the basic and advanced systems is that the latter will include a “space kit” provided by Northrop Grumman Corporation, which provides a direct downlink from space-based assets, providing intelligence data more rapidly. “That's the kind of direct downlink from those national technical means, from a space-based aspect. That reduces the additional cycle time having that direct access to those space-based assets,” the general said.
However, the basic version also will be able to access that information, just not directly. Instead, it will be able to acquire the information from data facilities from organizations such as the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency “Now, that doesn't mean that the basic does not have access to that space-based data,” he clarified.
As many of you probably know, Titan is that scalable, and expeditionary intelligence ground station, really looking to provide fused sensor data that enables long-range precision fires.
The Army will continue assessing and developing the system through a number of exercises “from a network standpoint and understanding where things are going to go at echelon, which will help determine how many basic and advanced systems are needed at different echelons.
The remaining TITAN schedule includes the first unit of issue for TITAN Basic in 2025 and the completion of the rapid prototyping program, beginning of production and issue of the final prototypes in 2026.
As the service transitions “to a major capability acquisition,” it most likely “will also start going down the path of what they call the software acquisition pathway,” he added, which will help address emerging threats” and “allow us to continue to be agile enough to address the emerging requirements.”
Gen. Barker’s team has created Project Linchpin specifically to provide artificial intelligence and machine learning TITAN and a host of other programs. All PEO-IEW&S sensor modernization are expected to take advantage of these emerging capabilities.