It’s all about command and Command. You can use many words but at the end, it will come back to the ability of a military force to get information from sensors; commands from its commanders and that this information is transmitted in reliable "pipes" that will not be "clogged" in the most crucial moments of combat.
When Elbit Systems announced that it was awarded a contract by the Australian Department of Defence for the supply, integration, installation and support of a very advanced Command and Control system, it looked the most natural choice. In recent years the Israeli company has become one of the main sources for Command and Control systems. Based on the vast combat experience of the Israeli defence forces (IDF), Elbit Systems has developed a unique set of tools for this mission.
This project, to be implemented over the next three years, will give the Australian army the capability to use defence network centric warfare systems for battle management. In the private sector the president of a big company needs to be able to know what is going on in every department. For this purpose, the army is a huge corporation.
The capability is aimed at increasing the commander’s situational awareness and saves him the time needed now to distribute commands and real time data acquired from many sensors.
The experience of the IDF proves above any doubt that these capabilities reduce the risk of casualties resulting from friendly fire and - no less important - the amount of collateral damage if war is in populated areas.
One of the first advantages of a good Command and Control system is the capability of the different participants in a war to get an accurate situational awareness picture . This allows for quick coordination and effective responses to rapidly changing operational scenarios.
The Israeli company is using its in-house development capabilities to achieve this aim.
Elbit will only say that it has developed expertise in digitized battlefield C4I by applying advanced technologies in combination with commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware and software packages.
The system it is understood employs a tactical building-block approach to link various applications and levels of command implementing a net-centric concept.
Configurations comprise tactical computers, digital maps, and message handling systems, border surveillance, advanced communication controllers and modems as well as various components developed for specific operational needs of "special units".
Elbit is developing the needed software infrastructure and applications for mobile and airborne platforms, for the individual soldier, and for headquarters Command and Control (C2) applications.
With all these assets in hand, Elbit systems is offering comprehensive integrated solutions of C4I for land forces at all levels. The systems process, manage and present massive amounts of data arriving from various sources into a user-friendly format. The system also does another important thing - in some parts, where this is needed it can prioritize the data. This is important in a cockpit of a fighter aircraft, this is no less important in a system like the one designed for the Australian army.
The full Command and Control system includes tactical computing solutions suited to all applications and to all levels of fighting forces and communications systems that enable timely and relevant information dissemination to all " ingredients " of the force, from the individual soldier to vehicle commanders, deployed command posts and general headquarters.
These communications solutions - the " pipes ’’ - include radio, IP and satellite equipment.
Tactical internet is enabled by systems such as Elbit systems Tactical Multimedia Router (TMR), a unique military grade triple-play IP routing solution for mobile and deployed command posts.
With the growing number of land, air and sea sensors participating in building the full picture, Elbit Systems says that its main success in the development of its Command and Control system like the one that was selected by Australia, is enabling modern forces to fully synchronize the flow of real time data and commands, even in the heat of the battle.
The nature of wars in our times, says Elbit Systems can move very quickly from Low Intensity Conflicts (LIC) to a full scale war: "Our net centric system can provide all levels of combat units with the relevant data at any given moment" an Elbit Systems source said.
The company is very tight lipped about what it is supplying to its customers, but in general says that a Command and Control system includes many building blocks, "with changing priority according to the mission".
The ingredients of the Elbit systems Command and Control system have one goal – “to provide infantry soldiers with greater situational awareness, enhanced force coordination and a shortened sensor-to-shooter loop”, a company source said recently.
Looking at previous contracts including those for the Israeli defence forces (IDF), it can be assessed that the system that will be supplied to Australia will include some of the main building blocks.
One of them is the TactER -31D tactical computer, which is an indispensable C2 tool for the digital battlefield, ensuring complete continuity across vehicle-mounted and dismounted applications.
This computer has received many man-hours of development to keep it flexible for combat. The unique vehicular docking station and latch enable seamless operation both in and out of the vehicle.
The lightweight tablet configuration and integrated handle allows the unit to be quickly and easily transported. The unit features a high-performance 10.4” XGA sun-readable display with LED backlight, enabling both day and night use. With a smart power management algorithm and eight-cell smart Li-Ion Batteries, the TactER-31D is a "very important tool in combat" according to an IDF source using it in his reserve service.
The Enhanced Tactical Computer (ETC) provides another level of C2 capabilities and tactical data dissemination to a broad range of combat, command and reconnaissance vehicles. The ETC was also designed to sustain the harshest conditions, and is fully battle-proven and currently in use by numerous armed forces around the world.
The computer supports a broad range of visual applications and feature advanced processing, graphics, security and communications capabilities. Users say that its operation is very intuitive and therefore easy even for reserve forces that are not being trained all year round.
Forming an inter-vehicle operating network, the Weapon Integrated Battle Management System (WIN BMS) enhances C4 among vehicles. Field-proven and easy to operate, the WIN BMS supports all operational needs including direct fire engagement and troop maneuvering, indirect fire support, intelligence and logistics. With the growing number of vehicles manned and unmanned in the battlefield this capability is critical.
Artillery has not lost its importance in modern combat. Close support fire is essential in many situations. The Israeli company's Combat NG is another ingredient of the Command and Control system. This one is tailored for field artillery. Managing all aspects of artillery operation, it is designed for deployment from platform to brigade level. In addition to capabilities that include supervision of all unit resources and support decision-making at tactical and operational levels, the Combat NG assures even faster response time and increased survivability.
Combat NG is designed to support a wide range of artillery platforms including self-propelled and towed guns as well as mortars and rocket launchers.
With very accurate rockets that gain a new importance in many armed forces, this tool is a critical element to coordinate the fire from many sources to many targets.
In all combat situations, minimizing the sensor to shooter time is an essential task and Elbit Systems is offering another building block just for that purpose. The Torc2h is a sensor-integrated C2 solution.
It optimizes operational activities by providing common situational awareness, e-mail, command dissemination, and decision support tools for all units, including headquarters, commanders, sensor operators, border patrols and dismounted teams.
Torc2h is an essential tool for closing the sensor-to shooterloop, optimizing data collection and enhancing border patrol operation. In addition, the system facilitates offline operational debriefing.
The system was selected by the Israel Defense Forces for border protection Command and Control and is deployed along the country’s borders.
The very important role of combat helicopters in almost any war scenario led to Elbit Systems developing the HELIC3OM - an advanced Command, Control, Communication and Mission Management system. It provides helicopter aircrews with real-time situational awareness and the capability of sharing mission-critical data with all battlefield participants.
In a certain way the HELIC3OM, is a good example to the way a good Command and Control system works these days.
The HELIC3OM is a fully digital, integrated Command, Control, Communications and Mission Management System that provides helicopter crew with a real time situational awareness picture via a straight forward PDA-like graphical user interface, with touch screen and single hand Mouse/HOCAS (Hands on Collective and Stick) operation.
The HELIC3OM is interlinked to a number of independent data networks as well as the helicopter's internal navigation and flight management systems. This link enables the HELIC3OM to provide position and basic helicopter status information as well as mission data to the pilot.
As in all the other "data interface" channels of the overall Elbit Systems infrastructure, the data is presented on top of a Digital Moving Map and includes all necessary tactical and navigational information. The information includes navigation waypoints, obstacle warnings, pre-flight and in-flight mission planning issues and features tactical information overlays for better tactical picture, battlefield control and coordination. The HELIC3OM provides pilots with the whole picture and tools to communicate coordinate and exchange critical battle position targets, position of allied forces, aerial forces and threat information with other battle participants, in a very easy and coherent way.
Elbit is also a leading UAV manufacturer and all its Command and Control system like the one selected by Australia has the ability to fully integrate with UAVs and also with unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) and with unmanned vessels.
Asia Pacific Defence Reporter asked an IDF senior source to sum up the somewhat confusing building a diagram of a sophisticated Command and Control system: for example; " a sniper, well positioned stops the advance of a ground force . The ability to locate him and destroy him in seconds with all the fire sources available, without harming other friendly forces in the area, this is task of such a system".
Command and Control is at the heart of any combat situation. The complexity of modern war calls for a solid flow of data and commands. Elbit Systems claims that it offers exactly that.
The lessons from the second Lebanon war and the "Cast Lead", operation in Gaza show, that in principle, this definition is the best one. A simple definition, like a simple solution to a situation that otherwise looks as if it is completely out of control.