177 STC 06 E - INTEROPERABILITY: THE NEED FOR TRANSATLANTIC HARMONISATION
PIERRE CLAUDE NOLIN (CANADA)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
II. DEVELOPING EUROPEAN PLATFORM-CENTRIC CAPABILITIES FOR ALLIED COMBAT OPERATIONS
III. INTEROPERABILITY IN THE ERA OF NET-CENTRICITY
A. THE NOTION OF NET-CENTRICITY
B. INTELLIGENCE, SURVEILLANCE AND RECONNAISSANCE (ISR) CAPABILITIES
C. C4 CAPABILITIES
1. Command and Control
D. EXECUTION PHASE: TARGETING AND SHOOTING
IV. TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER AND INFORMATION SHARING
1. Ever since the end of the Cold War, the problem of NATO's transatlantic capability gap has been at the heart of a debate over the viability and relevance of the Alliance in the new security environment. The shift of focus from territorial defence to multinational expeditionary missions, documented in the 1999 Strategic Concept, poses a considerable challenge for NATO, and particularly for the European Allies. The performance of the European armed forces in NATO - or US-led coalition operations, such as in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, demonstrated clearly the existence of a glaring transatlantic capability gap that has limited the interoperability of multinational forces and the efficiency of coalition war fighting.
2. The efforts to bridge this gap resulted in a number of initiatives, including NATO's Defence Capabilities Initiative (DCI) in 1999, the European Security and Defence Identity (ESDI), the more detailed Prague Capabilities Commitment (PCC) in 2002, and the EU's Headline Goal and European Capabilities Action Plan (ECAP). The transformation of the armed forces from a static, collective-defence posture to agile, rapidly-deployable expeditionary units has been identified as a top priority by both NATO and the EU.
3. Despite such a sound reaction to the existing problem, the gap remains. The transformation efforts require substantial funding, especially for the Europeans, since their armies have always been more territorial-defence-oriented than mobile American forces. However, while American and European economies are of comparable size, the United States military budget comprises approximately 60% of the aggregate military expenditure of all NATO nations, while Europe's share is less than 40%. Moreover, US military spending is far more efficient. For example, the United States outspends Europe at the rate of 2:1 in equipment procurement, and 5:1 in defence research, mostly due to Europe's money wasting through duplication of efforts. It should be noted, however, that the creation of the European Defence Agency is a manifestation of the recent efforts of the Europeans to consolidate a common defence technological and industrial base and to agree to share capacities.
4. Since a tangible increase in European military spending is not anticipated in the foreseeable future, the only prospect of bridging the capability gap is by enhancing the efficiency of the spending. For that, the European decision-makers need to set clear priorities for Europe's military research, development and procurement, based on comprehensive analysis of the developments in military technologies. Your Rapporteur shares the views of those who argue that future military operations will be based on the notion of net-centricity or, using NATO terminology, network-enabled capabilities (NEC) Net-centricity emphasises information, rapid reaction and extensive use of hi-tech. In the era of NEC, the question of interoperability of military forces becomes extremely acute. Interoperability in NEC is not merely about procurement of modern equipment, it is also about the ability to "plug" into other nation's networks and receive and share relevant information in real time. This should result in much greater survivability, lethality and responsiveness of armed forces.
5. In other words, the emergence of NEC represents a shift from the platform to the network. Needless to say, platforms will not vanish, since NEC is not a synonym of a virtual warfare. The air- or sea-lift capabilities will still be needed to transport troops, and tanks will still be used to carry out vital tasks on a battlefield.
6. According to PCC, NATO nations are required to procure platforms for expeditionary operations: air- and sea-lift capacity; aerial refuelling tankers; nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) defensive systems to protect forces, precision-guided munitions, and so forth.
7. Sealift. As acknowledged during the Prague Summit in 2002, there is a shortfall in NATO's strategic sealift capabilities. Nevertheless, the allies took the problem seriously and engaged in a series of cooperation efforts. Nine NATO nations (8 European countries and Canada), led by Norway, created a consortium designed to charter up to 10 special 'roll-on/roll-off' ships for NATO operations. Several European NATO nations also established the Sealift Coordination Centre (SCC) in Eindhoven, which has already proven its value by achieving significant financial savings through better coordination of naval transportation.
8. European shipbuilders are engaged in a number of promising joint projects. With respect to aircraft carriers, four European nations (France, Italy, Spain, and UK) have a fleet of 5 carriers (compared to 12 active American carriers). In addition, France and the UK reached agreement, on 24 January 2006, to harmonise the designs of the new generation of aircraft carriers - UK's CVF and France's PA2. The French government has a rather plausible vision of a "naval Airbus", as a result of potential co-operation between Thales and DCN (the leader of France's naval defence industry) on the one hand and Germany's ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems on the other. Another example of far-reaching cooperation is the agreement in 2005 between France and Italy to build up to 27 new multimission frigates. Mrs. Michèle Alliot-Marie, French Defence minister, called it the "biggest naval project ever undertaken in Europe". In general, European cooperation in the area of shipbuilding, although still uneven, is progressively falling into place. The concept a "naval Airbus" represents a medium-term objective that the Europeans should strive towards.
9. Strategic Airlift. Enhancing airlift capacity is one of top priorities of PCC. Without such a capacity, the Alliance would not be able to carry out agile military operations, such as those assigned to the NATO Response Force (NRF), or humanitarian missions, such as those in Darfur or Pakistan. NATO nations seeking additional strategic airlift capabilities essentially have three procurement options:
1. US C-17 aircraft. C-17 is a reliable vehicle, but it is the most expensive option (over $250 million for one C-17).
10. The European Allies also need to enhance their tactical lift capabilities, including tactical military aircraft, transport helicopters and high-mobility military trucks. These vehicles are indispensable in countries like Afghanistan, with its poor roads and underdeveloped infrastructure. The main problem is not the lack of European industrial capacity in this area. For instance, Finmeccanica, a solid Italian high-tech company, is producing (together with the US Lockheed Martin) highly advanced C-27J tactical aircraft and has recently signed a contract worth $6 billion for the supply of helicopters to the United States. The problem is that Europe does not procure these vehicles in sufficient numbers. Speaking of positive developments, the modern NATO-Helicopter 90 (NH-90 and MH-90) is expected to strengthen the tactical airlift capabilities of several NATO nations. France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom will procure more than 600 of these helicopters. As mentioned, the A400M also disposes of certain tactical airlift capabilities.
11. Air-to-air-refuelling. The shortfall of air tankers is a serious issue for NATO European Allies, identified both by NATO's PCC and the EU's Headline Goal. Air-to-air refuelling is part of the European Capabilities Action Plan of the European Defence Agency. The importance of air-to-air refuelling capabilities was clearly demonstrated in the operations in the Balkans and Afghanistan. In recent years, with several exceptions, European countries have not made the necessary progress in this area. According to the European Defence Agency, European fleets of strategic tankers are ageing, and current European contributions comprise less than half of what is required. However, looking ahead, there are certain reasons for optimism, based on a number of unilateral (the UK, Germany, France and Italy are making efforts to modernise their fleets) and multilateral initiatives, recently launched within NATO and the EU.
12. Force protection against CBRN threats. The Prague Summit endorsed the development of the multi-national high-readiness CBRN defence battalion, which is primarily designed to support the deployed NATO joint forces. The Battalion reached full operational capability on 1 July 2004, and was used to protect the Olympic games in Athens. The Battalion's servicemen are able to detect CBRN agents, extract contaminated persons and equipment, and carry out decontamination works.
13. The Allies are determined to create a system of force protection against missile attacks, but this system is still years from completion. The tactically mobile, 360-degree, transatlantic American-German-Italian Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) is expected to be deployed by 2012. MEADS, with the US 'hit-to-kill' PAC-3 missile as its baseline interceptor, will provide the NRF with effective defensibility against tactical ballistic or cruise missiles. The MEADS project initially suffered from certain technology transfer problems, but it was eventually endorsed in 2005, when the German Bundestag, after some hesitation, approved German participation in the project. On a broader level, NATO is working on a multi-layered Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence (ALTBMD) system against short- and medium-range ballistic missiles and other aerial threats to the deployed troops. The ALTBMD will incorporate different low- and high-altitude missile defence systems to intercept missiles in the boost phase (by UAVs and airborne lasers), in the mid-course, and the final phase (the US THAAD, MEADS, PAC-3, and the Franco-Italian SAMP/T system, based on Aster 30 missile). In addition, the ALTBMD will comprise a naval component, based on the American Aegis and British-French-Italian PAAMS systems. NATO will provide the command, control and communication segment for the ALTBMD, which is expected to be fielded by 2010.
14. Air force. Strike fighter jets are at the center of contemporary combat operations. In procuring such aircraft, the Allied nations can choose between the US Lockheed Martin-led multinational Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) F-35 programme and the genuinely European Eurofighter (participating nations - Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK).1 A number of NATO countries, apart from the United States - Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Turkey and the UK - are engaged in the F-35 programme, and signings for actual purchases of the aircraft are expected in 2006. However, due to certain problems, including technology transfer issues, countries like Turkey are also considering alternative options, such as procuring the Eurofighter Typhoon multirole fighter, which was declared operational in 2005. The UK, despite of its involvement in the JSF programme, is already using Typhoons.
15. Precision munitions. In the past few years, NATO European countries have achieved a significant breakthrough in building stockpiles of precision munitions, mostly relying on US Paveway laser-guided bombs or, like France, developing its own equivalent systems. Germany has contributed significantly to improving the Alliance's precision strike capability by introducing the precision-capable long-range missile MAW Taurus. Nevertheless, greater progress would be welcomed in procuring new types of precision munitions, such as guided artillery, mortar shells and air-launched standoff missiles (TASMs). A very important step is acquiring the American Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) systems that should be compatible with the Typhoon fighter. Furthermore, NATO's progress in fielding advanced tactical cruise missiles - such as the MBDA Storm Shadow/SCALP - would amplify the Alliance's precision strike capability.
16. Tanks and fighting vehicles. Several NATO countries continue to sustain and upgrade their fleets of heavy tanks and infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs): the UK still develops its Challenger tanks and Warrior IFVs, France purchases hundreds of Leclerc tanks and is already planning to upgrade these tanks as well as its AMX-10P IFVs, and Germany expects to contribute significantly to future operations with its PUMA and GTK fighting vehicles. However, with the current focus on out-of-area operations, lighter wheeled armoured vehicles are beginning to appear more attractive. Germany seems to be taking a lead in this respect, recently procuring more than 200 Dingo 1s and enhanced Dingo 2 vehicles. The European Defence Agency launched an initiative to consolidate the market of Europe's armoured fighting vehicles by encouraging joint technology demonstration efforts and possibly through a joint European programme during the second decade of the century. Nevertheless, European progress in this area would be considerably accelerated by comprehensive cooperation with the United States, which is developing a qualitatively new generation of manned and unmanned combat vehicles under its Future Combat System (FCS) programme. This cooperation assumes an equitable and balanced sharing of the responsibilities to carry through such an ambitious project.
A. THE NOTION OF NET-CENTRICITY
17. For many years, the interoperability problems within the Alliance have been largely associated with the insufficient quantity and quality of European platforms. However, already back in 1999, during the NATO campaign in Kosovo, a new type of interoperability-related problems, not directly related to platforms, were revealed: first of all, the absence of a single integrated data network to support dissemination of information for coalition partners; and, secondly, the inability to secure the exchange of digital data in real-time, and to keep up with the changing situation on the battlefield. These data-exchange problems marred coalition warfighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, where, for example, the operational tempo of the British forces was constrained by the inability to access US targeting systems such as JSTARS and Global Hawk.2
18. According to Jeffrey P. Bialos and Stuart L. Koehl, eminent American experts on transatlantic security and NATO transformation, interoperability in the 21st century "is no longer about having the same missiles or tanks, but about having the ability to securely communicate, to have access to the same level of situational awareness, and to have the types of command and control capability to allow execution, based on real-time sensor inputs."3 In other words, for coalition forces to be fully interoperable, the challenges of net-centricity should be taken into account.
19. The concept of Network-Centric Warfare (NCW) was developed in 1998, by US Navy Vice Admiral Arthur K. Cebrowski and John J. Garstka, Assistant Director of the US Office of Force transformation, in their article "Network-Centric Warfare: Its Origins and Future". They described NCW as "deriving its power from the strong networking of a well-informed but geographically dispersed force. The enabling elements are a high-performance information grid, access to all appropriate information sources, weapons reach and manoeuvre with precision and speed of response, value-adding command-and-control (C2) processes - to include high-speed automated assignment of resources to need - and integrated sensor grids closely coupled in time to shooters and C2 processes."4 Thus, NCW, or NEC, links all battle entities within an interactive network, using satellite imagery, manned and unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, ground sensors, and other enablers.
20. NEC is inherently linked to the more general global trend from the Industrial to the Information Age. However, despite the fact that swift information exchange is at the heart of net-centricity, it is not a synonym for information warfare. NEC is predominantly associated with operational and tactical levels of warfare, enabling various actors on the battlefield to interact with unprecedented effectiveness, agility and synchronisation. Advancements in cutting-edge, data-sharing technologies provide armed forces with exceptional situational awareness, increased operational tempo, accuracy, lethality and survivability. NEC also provides the ideal environment for proper understanding and prompt implementation of command intent. In network-centric combat operations, military units no longer need to maintain visual contact with each other: synchronised tactical offensive can be organised with small, dispersed battle groups, thus reducing the required number of soldiers and platforms, and increasing invisibility and survivability of troops. In sum, countries possessing network-centric capabilities have a decisive war fighting advantage in the 21st century.
21. By providing and constantly updating the complete picture of combat and identifying key targets, NEC facilitates the so-called "effects-based operations" (EBOs), or, to use NATO terminology, "Effects-Based Approach to Operations" (EBAO). NATO's Concepts for Allied Future Joint Operations defines EBAO as "the comprehensive integrated application of all instruments of Alliance power, both military and non-military, to create campaign effects, which will achieve desired outcomes". The holistic nature of an effects-based approach offers, in this regard, a more comprehensive way of influencing the will, understanding and capabilities of adversaries, allies and neutrals. Striving for unity of effort across the instruments of power and across the full range of Alliance missions, while maximising freedom of action at the lowest possible level, will ultimately enhance timely and effective decision-making. EBOs may also be regarded as a more civilised way of fighting wars, as they attempt to avoid unnecessary harm to civilians and non-essential troops of an opponent country.
22. NEC has its critics too. Certain homogeneity, intrinsic to net-centricity, could potentially expose the whole system to a single attack or single failure.5 It is also questionable if highly-sophisticated NCW is suitable to deal with asymmetric threats, such as small groups of diversionists or insurgents. Some experts warn that, in several years time, military communication bandwidths will reach maximum capacity and the network will be overloaded with messages. Last but not least, there is a fear that smaller coalition partners might loose their military autonomy via increasing dependence on the US architecture.
23. The United States is an undisputed global leader and pioneer in developing the NEC, that are at the centre of the US transformation strategy, as defined in the Joint Vision 2020. The comprehensive and ambitious American NCW programme covers the period 2001-2016. The achievements of the United States in this field were already demonstrated in recent military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, the United States is primarily focusing on network-centric interoperability between its own air, navy and land components.
24. Of all the NATO European allies, the United Kingdom has the most conceptual approach with its Network Enabled Capabilities initiative. Having recently achieved the initial state of interconnection, the United Kingdom expects to reach the stage of "full integration" by 2015 and "full synchronization" by 2025. The UK is also the only ally that has experienced participation in network centric operations: the British expeditionary forces were granted access to exploit American networks during the Iraqi campaign. France and Germany also consider network-centricity a priority in their military transformation efforts. Germany, for instance, is actively working on solving technical challenges with regard to establishing a "Role-Based Common Relevant Operational Picture" (ROBOCROP) which shall provide the leader on the battlefield and the commander at the HQ with the relevant information to enable him to make the right decision in time, avoiding an overload of information. The French concept of network-enabled operations is based on a pragmatic approach making it possible to obtain a decisive advantage in the operational realisation of missions centred around EBOs.
25. NATO itself has been working on the NATO Network-Enabled Capabilities (NNEC) since 2002. NATO Strategic Commanders identified the development of NNEC as one of 7 key priorities of NATO transformation (together with Effective Engagement, Joint Manoeuvre, Integrated Logistics, and so forth). NNEC is a concept still under development. The NNEC Feasibility Study, a project funded by 12 NATO nations and carried out by NATO Command, Control and Communications Agency (NC3A), called for major changes in NATO Communication Information Systems (CIS) implementation, operational structures, policies, and processes, in order to enable the Alliance to meet the future challenges of NEC.
26. In practice, network-centric capabilities can be grouped into three stages:
1. Information acquisition (ISR capabilities)
B. INTELLIGENCE, SURVEILLANCE AND RECONNAISSANCE (ISR) CAPABILITIES
27. The ongoing revolution in sensor technologies promises enormous advantages for military ISR. The new generation of miniaturised, cost-effective, high-resolution sensors, embedded in space, aerial, ground and maritime vehicles, will significantly improve the ability of the military to survey, detect, track and target objects in real- or near-real-time, clearing the 'fog of war' and providing military commanders with full situational awareness, or, in U.S. army language, with the Common Relevant Operational Picture (CROP). The most important part of ISR data comes from satellites and manned and unmanned aircraft vehicles.
28. Satellites are indispensable for modern ISR, navigation and communication systems. The US military supremacy in operations like Iraqi Freedom derived, to a large extent, from its extensive use of space assets. For highly accurate military positioning, the United States uses its Navstar Global Positioning System (GPS), a constellation of 28 satellites. Originally intended for military applications, the GPS was made available for civilian use in the 1980s. The military-related information transmitted by the GPS is encrypted using a code called P(Y); the decryption keys being renewed on a daily basis. The American allies are not automatically granted access to these keys. While the reluctance to share such sensitive information might be justified from a security standpoint, there is a clear need to elaborate a more flexible Alliance-wide mechanism that would enable the coalition partners to plug into the GPS during joint operations, in order to receive real-time guidance on a battlefield.
29. In imagery reconnaissance, the US military is relying on two types of satellites: the Advanced KH-11 (which exploits reflected light and thermal emissions) and Onyx (based on the principle of radio waves bouncing off their targets). Some fears were expressed in the media that the lifetime of these satellites is approaching an end, and that the new U.S. systems currently under development, such as the Future Imagery Architecture (FIA) and the Space Radar, will not be ready to take over in time. As far as the signal intelligence (SIGINT, a capability to intercept electromagnetic signals, such as radar transmissions or cell phone communications) is concerned, the United States has several advanced satellites, but most information on this subject is classified.
30. In Europe, there are five satellite observation programmes: three that are strictly military (Hélios I and Hélios II optical systems and SAR-Lupe radar system) and two that are for dual use (Pléiades optical system and Cosmo-Skymed radar system). The Hélios I system, developed through tripartite co-operation among France, Italy and Spain, has been operational since October 1995. The Hélios II system, developed under four-power co-operation involving France, Belgium, Spain and Italy, has been operational since the beginning of April 2005. The SAR-Lupe system is being developed by Germany with entry into service expected at the beginning of 2007. Finally, the Pléiades system developed under co-operation among France, Belgium, Sweden, Spain and Austria, should be put into service in 2009. In addition, six European countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Greece) are about to commit the initial architecture studies for a multinational observation system for security and defence purposes (MUSIS: Multinational Space-Based Imaging System for surveillance, reconnaissance and observation) intended to take over from the present systems which are expected to end their useful lives in the 2014-2016 timeframe. In the SIGINT area, no operational systems exist in Europe; currently there are only some demonstration operations run by France.
31. On a multi-national level, the most noteworthy European projects are the Galileo satellite navigation system, the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) initiative and the European Union Satellite Centre (EUSC). Galileo, perceived as the European GPS, is to be deployed by 2010. Galileo is expected to be interoperable with GPS and the Russian GLONASS navigation network. It is intended for civilian use. The first Galileo test satellite was successfully launched in December 2005 from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. GMES, designed to support collection of environmental and security-related information, is expected to reach working capacity by 2008. The EUSC is dedicated to exploit information based on space imagery from several European satellite systems in order to support EU decision-making in the field of the CFSP. Some European countries are also engaged in bilateral projects to bridge imagery shortfalls. Germany and France are designing an arrangement which would allow Germany to have access to Helios 2 electro-optical imagery, while France would receive radar imagery from SAR-Lupe. Similarly, France and Italy are developing an exchange of capacities among their Pléiades, Cosmo-Skymed and Hélios systems. Unfortunately, such agreements are largely exceptional. According to Gerhard Brauer of the European Space Agency, "we see stand-alone national satellite systems with very little ability to communicate with each other. There must be stronger efforts at establishing connectivity between them. Crucially, this calls for a close dialogue between military planners and satellite providers in Europe."6 Interoperability in observation or surveillance from space actually offers a twofold challenge: the need to open up the flow of information between the partners in a single system on the one hand, and to agree on a "generic" architecture for the ground elements that are users of these systems on the other.
2. Airborne sensors
32. A very important part of ISR information comes from airborne assets. While cameras, radars or other sensors are often installed in combat or support airplanes or helicopters, certain aircraft systems are specifically assigned for ISR missions. The Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System (J-STARS) is a premier U.S. air-to-ground surveillance system, supplementing veteran U-2 ISR aircraft, J-STARS is capable of detecting, identifying and targeting moving and fixed hostile objects in the range of 250 km. J-STARS is installed in a modified Boeing 707-300 series aircraft, carrying 24 foot long antenna. Introduced during Desert Storm, J-STARS became irreplaceable for the U.S. C4ISR architecture. Another important U.S. programme is the Rivet Joint reconnaisance aircraft, tasked with electronic warfare operations. The US Army and Navy also planned to develop next-generation Aerial Common Sensor (ACS) multi-intelligence aircraft to replace US Army, airborne intelligence assets. However, the US DoD was not satisfied with the Lockheed Martin proposals, and the project was terminated and is examining alternatives to the ACS.
33. Other NATO nations are also deploying or developing their airborne ISR systems, such as Canadian RADARSAT, French helicopter-borne HORIZON, Italian CRESO and British ASTOR. At Alliance level, the important Coalition Airborne Surveillance and Reconnaissance (CAESAR) project , launched in 2001, is designed to examine ways to link various national air-to-ground surveillance assets with GMTI7 and SAR8 capabilities, including the American J-STARS. CAESAR, now succeeded by the Multisensor Aerospace-Ground Joint ISR Interoperability Coalition Architecture (MAJIIS) project, is an excellent example to follow, since the ground surveillance data-sharing issues are not completely settled within the Alliance. For example, during recent coalition operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the allies were permitted to receive data from J-STARS, but not in real-time and only after it was processed by the American commanders.9
34. In the long run, this problem is expected to be addressed by NATO's ambitious $4.24 billion Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) project. AGS will include manned and unmanned ISR platforms (primarily Airbus A321 airliner and GlobalHawk UAV) and will enable Alliance commanders to get a complete, theatre-wide picture of the situation on the ground in real time, and even at night and in poor visibility. However, since the AGS will not permit target identification, it will require the supporting deployment of more precise optical sensors. AGS is likely to rely on sensors developed by 5 European members of the Stand-Off Surveillance and Target Acquisition Radar (SOSTAR) consortium, as well as on US products. Once deployed, AGS should become an essential capability for coalition missions and especially for the NRF. AGS will be produced by the AGS Industries consortium of over 100 companies, including EADS, Galileo Avionica, General Dynamics Canada, Indra, Northrop Grumman and Thales. The consortium is currently working on the development of a single radar, called The Transatlantic Cooperative AGS Radar (TCAR). AGS is scheduled to achieve full capability by 2012. Just like AWACS, AGS will be owned and operated by NATO itself.
35. In addition to air-to-ground AGS, NATO's commonly-funded 14-nations Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) provides the Alliance with air-to-air surveillance capabilities. AWACS fleet consist of 17 modified Boeing 707 aircraft, equipped with special radar. AWACS aircraft perform a wide range of surveillance and reconnaissance tasks, and were used to patrol the skies during events like the Olympic Games. The problem is, however, that the AWACS aircraft is of a type no longer used in civil aviation. Their engines are said to make 15 times more noise than present-day Boeings 737-300. Up until now NATO has given priority to efficiency and cost-effectiveness at the expense of the citizens living in the vicinity of AWACS bases.
36. When talking about the future of ISR, it is difficult to overestimate the importance of emerging Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technologies. The United States again is in the lead with its GlobalHawk, Hunter and Predator UAVs, but Europe is not far behind. European countries are showing considerable dedication to developing remotely-controlled UAV capabilities. France dominates the UAV landscape in Europe, being engaged in production of numerous platforms of different size. Germany scrupulously follows the latest developments in UAV technology and pursues an active policy of UAV procurement and deployment. The UK has strong contacts with the US UAV industry, and is developing its own manufacturing capacity. The British surveillance UAV fleet consists mostly of its Phoenix aircraft that have been in service since 1999. In future, the British Army plans to procure more advanced Watchkeeper UAV systems, produced by Thales. Italy's reputation as an important player in UAV manufacturing is reinforced by the achievements of Alenia Aeronautica and Galileo Avionica.
37. On a pan-European level, France has taken the lead in the EuroMALE UAV project. EuroMALE is an attempt to bridge a gap in medium-altitude-long-endurance (MALE) UAVs, identified by the EU's European Capability Action Plan (ECAP). EuroMALE is expected to perform ISR, electronic warfare and communications relay. However, EADS, which is in charge of the project, is encountering difficulties in convincing certain European countries to sign on. At present, apart from France, only Spain has announced a wish to contribute to the programme, whereas the UK has chosen the Thales Watchkeeper system, Italy apparently prefers American Predators drones, and Germany currently runs the HALE (high altitude long endurance) UAV project, EuroHawk, which is the version of the American GlobalHawk equipped with German SIGINT sensors. If EADS fails to come up with additional financing, the EuroMALE project is likely to face collapse.
38. Furthermore EADS has developed and tested a demonstrator for future agile, autonomous and network-capable unmanned mission systems (BARRACUDA). A future European operational system "Advanced UAV" is designated to autonomously switch from the surveillance of a predetermined area to a reconnaissance role and can be redesigned for UCAV role".
39. The problem of UAV interoperability was taken seriously by NATO. The NATO Standardization Agreement (STANAG) 4586, issued in 2002, sets standards for architectures, interfaces, communication protocols, data elements and message formats that enable various UAVs to share information through common ground stations, thus enhancing interoperability among allied military forces. It should be noted, however, that NATO countries can choose whether or not they wish to be bound by NATO STANAGs. As of today, 12 NATO nations have ratified STANAG 4586.
1. Command and Control
40. The shift towards network-centric operations, carried out by dispersed forces, effective command and control capabilities become crucial for interoperability. As NATO shifts toward network-centric operations, demanding closer cooperation among more dispersed forces, the importance of interoperable C2 grows exponentially. As a result of the 2002 Prague Summit, NATO command structures were significantly transformed to better suit new roles of the Alliance. All operational responsibilities are now concentrated in the Allied Command Operations, based in Europe. In addition, a new functional command, Allied Command Transformation (ACT), headed by Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT), has been established with the mission of transforming NATO military capabilities into a much more interoperable and network-centric force. SACT is dual-hatted as the commander of the US Joint Forces Command, thereby linking NATO to US efforts in the area of military transformation.
41. NEC is regarded as one of the key concepts at the heart of NATO Transformation. NATO C3 Board started the NATO Network-Enabled Capability (NNEC) initiative to elaborate new doctrinal, structural and architectural concepts for the Allies to successfully inter-operate in the network-centric environment. The new NATO structure should be robust and flexible, capable of sharing high volumes of information almost instantaneously. NNEC, when developed, is expected to change the way of doing business within NATO by speeding up the decision-making process in NATO Headquarters.
42. The future NATO Air Command & Control System (ACCS) is a very significant programme and a good example of NATO interoperability activities. ACCS is designed to support the planning, tasking and execution of NATO defensive, offensive and support air operations. The basic tasks of ACCS are force management, air C2 resource management, airspace management, air mission control, air traffic control and surveillance. In addition, ACCS supports such necessary features as deployability, information exchange, communications and comprehensive land and maritime interface capabilities. ACCS will replace legacy air C2 systems and will interface with a number of existing automated and semi-automated systems currently employed by NATO and the NATO nations.
43. NEC is not merely about interconnection of assets. The human factor and joint training are also critical in order to achieve proper interoperability in network-centric environment. ACT supervises the Joint Warfare Centre in Norway, the Joint Force Training Centre in Poland and the Joint Analysis and Lessons Learned Centre in Portugal. The United States is conducting a series of Advanced Warfighting Experiments (AWEs) to improve interoperability of its forces and to test, among other things, new network-centric technologies and tactics. Unfortunately, foreign participation in the AWEs is rather limited.10 On the other hand, the Multinational and Limited Objective series of experiments (MNEs and LOEs) conducted by the Allied Command Transformation and the US Joint Forces Command involved a broad range of NATO participants and focused largely on interoperability.
2. Communications and Computers
44. In NEC, communication among troops, commanders and various platforms is a smooth, fast, convenient and interactive process. New types of communication, such as e-mails, video-conferences, forums and chat rooms, will reduce the importance of traditional voice communications, and yet will never make them obsolete in the context of military operations. Following developments in information technologies, the military is increasingly relying upon digital machine-to-machine communication systems, which promise to shrink the sensor-to-shooter time cycle. This trend makes the problem of interoperability even more acute, as it requires coalition partners to develop compatible software with appropriate interfaces. Radio frequency compatibility alone is no longer sufficient. NATO must intensify its efforts in that direction.
45. In its input to the Riga Summit, NATO C3 Board underlined that the "effective sharing of information within the Alliance is of strategic importance. The NNEC will permit robust, secure information sharing for situational awareness and information superiority and is key element in Alliance Transformation. Priority must be given to implementing this capability and to ensuring sufficient critical frequency spectrum is made available for Alliance use". The Alliance defence capabilities are critically dependent on the availability of and access to sufficient radio-frequency spectrum resources, which can only be achieved through close co-operation between Ministries of Defence, civil administrations and organisations in charge of spectrum regulation. NATO must provide high-level guidance on the military use and management of that important natural finite resource.
46. The US DoD's Global Information Grid (GIG) is to become the backbone of future American military communications. This Internet-Protocol-based net-centric system will provide authorized users with a seamless, secure, and interconnected information environment, meeting real-time and near real-time needs. GIG will use commercial technologies augmented to meet DoD's mission-critical user requirements. GIG is also meant to provide communications interfaces to coalition and allied users and systems. Some elements of GIG's initial capacity were already used during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The willingness of the United States to grant access to their "Grid" and to accept NATO Interface Standards, including their security accreditations, is a major prerequisite for interoperability and the development of NATO network-centric capabilities.
47. Since NEC is often associated with tactical and operational level warfare, the existence of secure and compatible tactical radio systems is crucial to ensuring the ability of troops to join the network in an interactive and horizontal manner. In view of the importance of developing network-centric capabilities, a number of NATO nations have acquired, or intend to acquire, the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS) or its lighter version Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS), a technology that provides jam-resistant digital communication of data and voice for command and control, navigation, relative positioning, and identification, primarily in the context of air and sea operations. JTIDS transmits data in NATO's Link 16 format. JTIDS components are installed in various aircraft (for instance, NATO's AWACS), submarines, and other air, land and maritime platforms. Further development of JTIDS/MIDS is one critical issue in order to achieve effective interoperability in an important area of net-centric operations.
48. European countries are also making efforts to upgrade their tactical radio systems and C2 and Battlefield Management (BM) systems for troops. The UK has taken significant strides forward, deploying the Bowman tactical digital communications system and exporting elements of Bowman to the continent. The French PR4G system is equivalent to the US SINCGARS. Germany is fielding the most advanced C2 and BM systems (FüInfoSys, FAUST, GIATS/DCRC), which comply with NATO Interoperability Standards, in order to enable the German army to participate in NATO network-enabled operations. However, some allies are still using fixed-frequency single-channel radios, which are hardly interoperable with more advanced broad frequency band radios, such as the US SINCGARS. SINCGARS break messages over different frequencies, thus considerably encumbering the interception of messages. Moreover, the United States is moving towards even more sophisticated software-defined Joint Tactical Radio Systems (JTRS), intended to replace a massive assortment of conventional military radios. JTRS will provide not only voice communication but instantaneous video and data download and network connectivity. JTRS-equipped troops and platforms would be able to log onto the network much like a wireless computer can pick up a signal and connect to the internet. The success of the JTRS project is not however guaranteed. According to Maj. Gen. Michael Mazzucchi, the US Army's Communications-Electronics Lifecycle Management Commander, there are serious concerns about the possibility of hackers gaining access to the network. However, efforts to increase network security would also seriously drive up programme costs.11
49. In the Information Age, data processing and computing capabilities increase with geometric progression, doubling every 18 months, in accordance with the famous Moore's law. Even if the physical limits of minitiaturisation of transistors are reached in the coming decades, this trend may be sustained by new cutting-edge technologies, such as nanotechnology, as was discussed in last year's Sub-Committee report. These developments should, in principle, enable military commanders to effectively sort, grade, analyse and redistribute vast amounts of data, provided appropriate concepts and procedures are developed in parallel and educated and trained personnel is available. The major complication is that governmental IT R&D programmes cannot keep up with the pace and match the scope of respective private sector endeavours. Often technology innovations surpass the imagination of defence strategists. Therefore, it is essential that military planners follow the best practices of, and closely cooperate with, the private sector. The information gathered by the members of the STC during the Committee visit to the headquarters of the Cisco Systems in San Jose, California, clearly implies that development of military network-centric capabilities should be based on technical solutions and compatibility standards generated by the private sector. However, mechanisms should be created to prevent sensitive military software-related information being available to unauthorised persons.
50. At various level in NATO, partnership with the private sector is pursued. A typical example is the NATO Network Centric Operations Industry Consortium (NCOIC), initiated by NATO's Allied Command Transformation (ACT), which aims at keeping NATO abreast of developments in the industry.
51. The efficiency of targeting has grown remarkably during the last decade. Only 20 of the approximately 23,000 munitions expended by NATO in the 1999 air operation in the Balkans caused collateral damage. In operation Iraqi Freedom, U.S. forces reduced the elapsed time of coordination efforts for targeting to about 45 minutes, compared to as much as four days in operation Desert Storm in 1991.12 Most of the existing guidance packages on precision weapons are coherently linked with ISR and C4 systems, forming a unified ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) architecture. Important U.S. ISTAR programmes include aerial Advanced Tactical Targeting Technology (AT3) system and the Navy's Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) system, which links Navy ships and aircraft operating in a particular area. France develops a similar network-centric project called Capacité d'Engagement Multi Plates-Formes (CEMP). The major European project is the above-mentioned MIDS system.
52. By 2008, the U.S. plans to field a sophisticated Network-Centric Collaborative Targeting (NCCT) system. The potential of NCCT was demonstrated in the joint Trident Warrior exercise on the East Coast of the United States in December 2005. During this exercise, the location of targets was pinpointed by various interacting ISR aircraft (including aircraft from the UK). The NCCT software algorithms then correlated the sensor data to reduce target location error, all without human involvement and within minutes. The system then automatically reported target location to human decision-makers. The ultimate goal of the NCCT is to reduce the time it takes to accurately locate targets by more than 90%.
53. Remotely-controlled and therefore network-related Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs) have the potential of becoming an extremely important precision strike capability in network-centric operations. UCAVs will be cheaper, and better suited to perform a wide range of high-risk missions than the existing manned aerial platforms. On the other hand, the introduction of UCAVs will require additional efforts to sustain interoperability of forces, since removing the pilot from the vehicle replaces man-rating systems and interfaces with new architectural philosophies.
54. The Premier UCAV project of the U.S., which is the unchallenged global leader in development of UCAVs, is Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS), the joint U.S. Navy/U.S. Air Force UCAV procurement project, with a view to developing an unmanned longer-range carrier-based aircraft. The two vehicles involved in the project are the Boeing X-45 and Northrop Grumman X-47. Predator aircraft, although primarily used for ISR purposes, is also capable of carrying and using two Hellfire missiles. Predators have been in use since 1995, in combat over Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.
55. European efforts in UCAV development are also noteworthy. An excellent example of growing interest in UCAVs is the UK decision to scrap its Future Offensive Air System (FOAS) project and set up a project known as the Strategic Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Experiment (SUAVE) instead. An important agreement on the Neuron project was announced between EADS, Dassault Aviation and Thales in 2003, covering a joint initiative to develop a new, unmanned aircraft that will cover all future combat roles. The Neuron will be significantly larger and more advanced than systems like the American Predator, with ranges, payloads and capabilities that will begin to approach manned fighter aircraft. It will be the first stealthy European aircraft that has unmanned autonomous air-to-ground attack capabilities with precision-guided munitions. Its first test flight is scheduled for 2011. However, contrary to the hopes of France, Italy and other European countries, the UK decided not to join the Neuron project, instead establishing co-operative arrangements with the United States to work on the Boeing X-45 UCAV demonstrator project. Another European initiative, the demonstrator BARRACUDA, has been presented by EADS and had its first flight in spring 2006.
56. Sophisticated theatre missile defence (TMD) systems are also examples of network-centric ISTAR capabilities. By linking sensors, C4 systems and interceptors, TMDs such as MEADS are designed to protect troops on the ground against shorter and medium-range ballistic and cruise missiles, against aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and other aerial threats. However, the issue of missile defence is too broad to be adequately covered in this report, especially since the Assembly's Science and Technology Committee has addressed this issue in several previous reports.
57. Last but not least, when pinpointing targets on a battlefield, coalition partners need to have appropriate "Blue force tracking" (BFT) capabilities in order to avoid friendly fire. Although combat identification has improved somewhat in recent years, especially after the introduction of respective STANAG, NATO countries still lack a comprehensive system to prevent fratricide. While the UK relies on the U.S. Blue Force Tracking System (BFTS), other European countries, notably France, are developing their own BFT capabilities that may not be compatible with the sophisticated BFTS, thereby potentially limiting interoperability of coalition forces. Germany also developed its own technical solution for a combat identification system. Responsible NATO institutions have developed a "STANAG 4193 - Battlefield Target Identification BTID", which has yet to be implemented by the nations.
59. The legal basis of the U.S. defence-related technology transfer policy is based on two acts: the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). These acts establish a rather complex case-by-case, decision-making model, involving a number of governmental bodies, mostly associated with the State Department and DoD. A separate mechanism is established for the National Disclosure Policy (NDP), which deals with the transfer of classified information. Although legal acts set certain criteria for the transfer, in reality the decisions on whether or not to release military technology stem from subjective understanding of US national security interests. The US determination to maintain information superiority makes Washington especially sensitive towards transfer of sensory technologies such as radars and elements of missile defence systems.
60. Europe is benefiting from American technology in programmes like Joint Tactical Radio System, Global Hawk, MEADS or night-vision devices, but, according Bialos and Koehl, the list of critical US NCW-related projects with limited, no-release policy, is also quite extensive:13
* Future Combat System (FCS), the U.S. Army's network-centric system of systems for the next generation, including new vehicles, weapon systems, and C4ISR capabilities (no release);
61. Problems securing technology transfer arrangements with the United States are also jeopardising some platform-centric projects, such as JSF. These problems have raised concerns in London that might threaten the UK's $2 billion commitment to the JSF programme. British and American legislators and senior defence officials have held a number of meetings to discuss the problems of military technology transfer and a possible waiver of the US ITAR restricting the trade of sensitive technology between the United States and the UK, especially regarding the JSF. At the time of writing these negotiations have reached stalemate. Norway has also recently announced that it could withdraw from the JSF system Development and Demonstration Programme and choose the Eurofighter or SAAB JAS 39 Gripen instead.
62. From the European standpoint, the US technology transfer process could be more transparent and non-arbitrary. Even many Americans, such as Dr. Ron Sugar, CEO and President of the Northrop Grumman, admit that ITAR "discourage foreign co-operation".14 Despite declared commitment to coalition values and a sympathetic attitude at the highest political level, the technology transfer process often meets considerable resistance at mid-level. According to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, application-processing time in the responsible American agencies has increased over recent years. GAO concluded that "processing time goals for OEF (Operation Enduring Freedom) and OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom) applications have generally not been met."15 The cumbersome US technology transfer mechanism may particularly undermine the viability of rotational multinational forces, such as NRF. With the absence of the unified approach toward all allies, it is uncertain if the NRF will maintain its ability to interoperate with the United States after every rotation. Thus, Bialos and Koehl predict that the current US technology transfer policy may result in "a "dumbed down" NRF with limited interoperability along the spectrum outlined above, limited connectivity to advanced U.S. network-centric warfare enablers, and, hence, less potency as an expeditionary force, greater risk of casualties (from friendly and unfriendly fire), and little real opportunity for leveraging U.S. technology for capability acquisition."16
63. There have been several attempts to reform the current arms exports policy of the United States. These efforts, undertaken by the Clinton and the G. W. Bush administrations, aimed to improve the efficiency of processing applications from the closest allies. Unfortunately, these initiatives turned out to be limited in scope, partly due to resistance in Congress. Recently, the prominent US think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), proposed a dramatic reform of the US technology transfer policy. In its report of 26 May 2006, entitled "Trusted Partners: Sharing Technology Within the US-UK Security Relationship", CSIS experts call for a new policy framework between the American and British governments that would allow US and UK companies and specially cleared individuals to share all sensitive defence-related technology and information. Within this framework, the report says, "the issue of exports simply would not arise" and the whole weight of the ITAR would get involved only "when you go beyond this trusted community".17 Such a model could be considered with regard to all nations of the Alliance.
64. The issues of access to networks and sharing of technical parameters are just as important as technology transfer itself. For example, during the Operation Iraqi Freedom, coalition forces were often locked out of planning and execution because most information was posted on systems accessible only to US forces. Most major air missions that used NEC technology involved only US aircraft.18 The problem goes even further: it is a common experience for allied information, once it is posted on an American system, to acquire a US-only label, thereby denying allies access to the very details that they provided. In the longer run, with Europeans fielding AGS instead of J-STARS, Galileo instead of GPS (hypothetically, as Galileo is intended purely for civilian use), and with new European UAVs, satellites and other C4ISTAR systems being introduced, information sharing and compatibility issues will be placed on top of the interoperability agenda. Thus, there is a clear need for an overarching, secure NATO-wide network to efficiently share information among multiple partners and to interconnect various network architectures.
65. The increasing importance of adequate and timely information and interoperable information systems for military operations requires an accurate and complete analysis of existing and upcoming military platforms in order to develop their Information Exchange Requirements (IERs). The IERs form the basis for non-ambiguous specifications for the development of information systems and are key to interoperability between the various platforms.
66. It goes without saying that release of defence-related technical information is a sensitive issue, and the US hesitation is understandable. However, the leaders of the United States have to make a strategic choice: would U.S. national interests be better guarded by providing advanced military technology to allies, and thus promoting greater burden sharing through interoperability, or should the U.S. keep these technologies and rely solely on its overwhelmingly superior technology to win future wars and conflicts without the substantial help of allies? There are clearly no easy solutions to this dilemma. Whilst fighting in a coalition is a politically-preferred option, the question is whether US steps to advance interoperability would be reciprocated by the allies' fulfilment of their commitments and substantial improvements in their armed forces. The problem is not the lack of trust in partner governments, but rather evolves around the caution for eventual end-users and involvement of third parties. The recent American upheaval over the EU's proposed lifting of the arms embargo to China is a perfect case in point. Thus, if the US allies wish to secure more advantageous technology transfer policies on behalf of the United States, they need to demonstrate greater political will to enhance cooperation with the U.S, and greater determination to take on more of the burden.
67. The Prague Capabilities Commitment is a sound NATO project, which contributes enormously to bridging the transatlantic gap in defence capabilities. However, the allied nations need to consider further steps. European acquisition of strategic lift or air-to-air refuelling capabilities is very important, but will it suffice to ensure interoperability in an environment of emerging network-centric warfare? When making decisions on defence budgets and setting long-term priorities for defence sectors, the promises of net-centricity should be seriously taken into consideration. Development of indigenous network-centric capabilities would not only allow Europe to be interoperable with US forces, but would also ensure its military autonomy by relieving European countries of the necessity to rely exclusively on American network-centric assets.
68. In the short- and medium-term, however, the more advanced American NCW technologies will remain indispensable for coalition war fighting, especially when it comes to the NRF. Therefore, it is critical that the United States and its allies strengthen their dialogue in order to ease technology transfer policies and facilitate effective sharing of relevant technical information. The conditions for transatlantic industrial cooperation need to be improved, by encouraging foreign participation in major NCW-related programmes.
69. Building European C4ISTAR capabilities is a tremendous task. It cannot be fulfilled without the concerted action of all allies. NATO efforts should be supported and strengthened to develop an overarching NEC architecture with common protocols and interfaces (perhap, s with guarded gateways and dynamic firewalls), wherein all allies could 'plug-and-play' seamlessly and in real time. Command and control structures and military doctrines should be revised accordingly. Greater attention should be paid to multinational military exercises to master NEC techniques. It could be a worthwhile idea to place more key NEC systems under direct NATO control and common funding, as was done in the case of AGS. Your Rapporteur believes that there is a need for renewed efforts by NATO nations to fully accept NATO STANAGs on interoperability and to work towards meeting them.
70. The notion of net-centricity should become one of the cornerstones of the next NATO Strategic Concept, anticipated in 2008. This issue could also be considered during this year's NATO summit in Riga, Latvia, which is expected to be a transformational summit. Without proper attention to network-centric programmes, the transatlantic capability gap is likely to increase.
71. However, any technological improvement in military capabilities will fully exploit its potential only if the fundamental aspects of interoperability are sufficiently considered. No platform or tool alone will ever substitute an intelligent operator or planner. Therefore, training and education along common standards will play an increasing role if NATO is to maximize the benefits of new technology.
1 Other options also exist. For instance, the Swedish Saab Aerospace Gripen multirole fighters were recently purchased by the Czech Republic and Hungary. The French Rafale is also a versatile attack fighter that is available for purchase by the Allies.