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Raytheon ~ Using 5G For Command and Control

A team at Raytheon Intelligence & Space is pioneering an approach that places the power of 5G technology in the hands of U.S. Air Force airmen around the world [illustration via Raytheon]

A team at Raytheon Intelligence & Space is pioneering an approach that can place the power of 5G in the hands of servicemen and women.


News Release, Arlington, 02 June 2021: A team at Raytheon Intelligence & Space, a Raytheon Technologies business, is pioneering an approach that can place the power of 5G in the hands of servicemen and women around the world.

“The services must be able to share and access data at any time from any location,” said David Appel, vice president of Defense & Civil Solutions for Space & C2 Systems for RI&S. “Being able to operate secure applications on 5G gives everyone up and down the command chain the ability to see the same thing at the same time. 5G networks provide the speed and resiliency needed to take the command centre virtual so no matter where you’re located, you know what’s going on around you.”

5G holds the promise of high-speed connectivity to massive amounts of data from sensors and systems in any location. Now, operators can operate under one ecosystem versus disparate connections to available data. And, it’s fast. With 5G, downloads occur 10 times faster than 4G – the difference between downloading a two-hour movie in 10 seconds versus seven minutes. This type of speed also increases security, ensuring the ability to carry out missions. When operators are on a mission, they can set up mobile 5G network with a signature low enough that it can’t be detected.

“Before now, decisions were made by those with the full picture of what was happening on a particular mission – usually a commander in an operations centre,” said Chris Worley, director for Defense & Civil Solutions at RI&S. “Now that the full picture is widely available, those closer to the action can make decisions to speed up reaction time or create new mission options.”

5G can provide real-time data wherever the operators, or air controllers, are located, and whenever a mission requires it, including search and rescue, evacuation operations and humanitarian aid missions. For example, a pilot on a reconnaissance mission today would take notes, then enter the data into a mission reporting system upon returning. RI&S’ prototype would allow that same pilot to upload immediately by using a speech-to-text application. If a pilot is out of network range, the information could upload when connected or upon landing, increasing the speed at which information is available to everyone else on the network.

“We can enhance applications to run on 5G, so even if you lose your connection or it’s spotty, the latest data is already downloaded,” said Worley. “Operators will be able to access imagery and data faster for smarter mission decisions, mitigating the risk of casualties in close contact.”

Operators can continue with their mission based on the information they were able to download until their connection was lost. Then when they are connected, applications can immediately burst data back to and from the command centre. But massive amounts of data are only useful if operators know what to do with them. RI&S’ advanced analytics can rapidly transform large volumes of data into relevant and actionable information, a critical step in speeding up command and control decisions on the tactical edge.

“Operators must be prepared for any scenario,” said Appel. “AI/ML will sift through the data from sensors, reference materials, databases and other sources to come up with recommended courses of action for operators to review and approve. It will help operators make better decisions faster.”

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