It’s all about IO integration

It’s all about IO integration

Craig Koziol

Air Combat Command’s RC-135V/W Rivet Joint, or “RJ”, has evolved over the past 14 years to become one of the most dynamic, operationally tasked airborne reconnaissance aircraft in the Department of Defense fleet. On any given sortie it’s typically tasked to support an array of mission areas- ranging from complex strikes to personnel recovery and beyond.

Today’s modern battlespace often depicts a web of integrated assets, to include airborne, space-based and complex ground nodes.

These nodes help refine and focus right-time/right-place effects on an enemy. The RJ is well on its way to becoming the central airborne Information Operations node in support of warfighting operations. The RJ mission will soon become the main clearinghouse between traditional ground-based assets and real-time tactical systems.

By cutting out the proverbial middleman, the RJ can fuse disparate sources of battlefield information to direct and enhance situational awareness to both kinetic and non-kinetic assets. Simply put, it’s the tactical hub of National Tactical Integration.

The RJ generally achieves full horizontal integration through the use of advancing technology and the professional warriors conducting the mission. At any given time, there are literally hundreds of sensors on the battlefield with eyes and ears actively working 24/7, 365 days/year to nail down targets essential for Predictive Battlespace Awareness and Time Sensitive Targeting. The RJ’s capability to bundle real-time multi-axis sensor data with persistent dwell time is the key to information superiority over an opponent. When we can disrupt, degrade and destroy an enemy inside its battle cycle, they can never win.

So how is this accomplished? It’s done with Machine-To-Machine–known as M2M-technology. Through automation, computers solve complex intelligence and engagement solutions and provide decisionmakers with actionable information within seconds, vice minutes or even hours. One of the newest emerging M2M systems is known as Network Centric Collaborative Targeting. It’s designed to employ geolocational algorithms that tie both on- and off-board sensors/databases to pinpoint Time Sensitive Targeting actions in the Find, Fix, and Track phases of the F2T2EA–the “Find, Fix, Track, Target, Engage, Attack” kill chain.

Not only does the RJ bring traditional strategic partners to the battlefield through NTI, it also plays a significant role with other critical warfighting assets. These are typically referred to as the Command and Control, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance, or C2ISR, platforms, such as the E-3 AWACS, E-8 JSTARS, EC-130H Compass Call, U-2, and various Unmanned Aerial Vehicles like Predator and Global Hawk.

The RJ enhances war-fighting capabilities through a combined direct support campaign where cross-cueing and fusing of individual C2ISR feeds contribute to a larger picture. This includes active participation on both data and voice nets like Information Broadcast Service, Link-16, Improved Data Modem, Voice Product Net, and Satellite Communications–or SATCOM. Effectively integrating and cross-cueing the RJ mission with other ISR platforms is a force multiplier providing correlated target information. In a typical cross-cue scenario, one platform provides a signals or imagery intelligence tip-off to the Combined Air Operations Center, which then tasks one or more systems to correlate the target and provide amplifying information. For example, if an RJ relays combat information used to identify weapon system types and potential threats to friendly forces, weapons employment decisions can be made based on the data.

One of the most recent technological innovations the RJ has seen involves direct connectivity to national intelligence producers. The system is referred to as Narrowband Reach Back, or NABRE. The primary goal of the position, known as the Information Integration Officer, or IIO, is to act as a real-time gateway between key intelligence nodes, both on and off the battlefield. The IIO’s charter is to keep tactical platforms on the same sheet of ISR music with an assortment of other mission support functions, like the Distributive Common Ground System, Cryptologic Support Groups and space-based assets. This facilitates focused collection and reporting efforts to synchronize the entire ISR constellation with the theater commanders’ battle rhythm. The ultimate aim is to provide a true simultaneous Time-Phase/Task-Apportionment ISR mission to support specific effects based operations.

The RC-135 fleet has also participated in every sizable armed conflict involving U.S. assets. RC-135s were present supporting operations in Vietnam, the Mediterranean for Operation EL DORADO CANYON, Grenada for Operation URGENT FURY, Panama for Operation JUST CAUSE, and Southwest Asia for Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM. RC-135s have maintained a constant presence in both Southwest Asia and in the area of the Balkans since the early 1990s. A large round of applause must be given to the outstanding Airmen who’ve endured many long deployments and hardships to ensure mission success. These professionals, along with emerging capabilities, will guarantee the RJ an even more important role in future conflicts. Combatant commanders never leave home without it!

By Brig Gen. Craig Koziol

55th IW/CC

Offutt AFB, Neb..

COPYRIGHT 2004 U.S. Air Intelligence Agency

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group