In modern warfare Information Advantage is critical to ensure commanders have situational understanding of the battlespace and the necessary information for rapid decision making.
Under the banner of BABELFISH 7, the Royal Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO) has demonstrated new technologies which offer a step-change in near real time, secure, information distribution. Working in collaboration with industry partners, Airbus and AirTanker, and utilising the NEXUS Data Platform and RAVEN virtual Communications Node, this new system enables intelligence to be drawn from a variety of sources, whether it be from space, an Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft, a ship at sea or land-based system, and processed to provide a combined intelligence picture of hitherto unrivalled detail in near real time.
To best illustrate the new technology, Capability Directors from all three Armed Services, and representatives from across other Government Departments, were invited on-board an RAF Voyager, the RAF’s Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft, for a demonstration event.
This type of information architecture can be seamlessly delivered for Land, Sea and Air from a vehicle, backpack, ship or aircraft, but the demonstration sought to show how the system worked in the most demanding environments, proving that if it is feasible to configure a new Information Advantage system at 25,000ft. The RCO hand-carried its deployable systems on board and connected into the new Satellite communications feed, demonstrating a real-time Common Operational Picture, within just a few minutes.
Industry partners Airbus and AirTanker, jointly invested in upgrading the Satellite Communications System on a Voyager, enabling the aircraft to act as an airborne communications node whilst concurrently operating its air-to-air refuelling tasks. This modification, which includes upgraded satellite communications, has been fully certified and remains on the aircraft, available for future operational use when required. The RCO Air Information Experimentation Laboratory continues to work with partners from across Defence to support Multi-Domain Integration trials and experimentation.
“Information advantage has always been key to success on operations, but in today’s world the ability to pull together intelligence and present it in a way which enables near real-time decisions to be made is critical”
“This work, which also demonstrates the close working relationship the RCO has with industry, is informing how we develop new capabilities, including Tempest. The speed at which the information was collated, processed and presented was quite remarkable.”
Group Captain Patrick Shea-Simonds
RCO Deputy Head
“Secure connectivity is key to the future battlespace. The collaboration with the RAF and AirTanker to embed satellite communications and connect, while demonstrating a flawless link with the RCO’s virtual comms node, proves the versatility and value of the MRTT in current and future operations.”
Head of Airbus Defence & Space UK