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US will use artificial intelligence of the ABMS systems to help fight Russian missiles

WARSAW, (BM) – As Defence24 reports, for the second time, the Americans presented the capabilities of the advanced ABMS combat management system of the air force, during which, among others, the attack by aerial drones – simulating the attack of six Russian cruise missiles – was successfully repulsed, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.

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According to the information provided by the Americans, the second demonstration of the ABMS [Advanced Battle Management System] developed in the United States included, among others quick detection and destruction of foreign cruise missiles simulated by unmanned aerial vehicles – AN / AGS-170 type targets. For this purpose, in one system, various sensors have been combined with many different types of fire sets, exchanging information between them in close to real time.

The second ABMS trials were carried out from August 31 to September 3, 2020. The test was supervised by the Department of the United States Air Force, but the United States Northern Command and the U.S. Space Command also collaborated. A makeshift control center was established at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.

The main purpose of these tests was to determine the effectiveness of the ABMS system in detecting and counteracting activities aimed at disrupting American operations in space. At the same time, however, the possibility of defending the territory of the United States itself against attack by maneuvering missiles with the use of a new type of anti-missile weapons – HVP [Hyper Velocity Projectile] artillery missiles moving at hypersonic speed.

Performing such a wide range of tasks was possible because, according to the Americans, the ABMS system combines the latest methods and technologies [including the so-called “artificial intelligence”] to quickly collect, analyze and share information and make decisions in real time, taking into account the knowledge about the available forces and resources. These data were then transferred to the forces deployed over a large area, both at the operational and tactical levels. The Americans were to show that the ABMS “connects weapons systems and personnel in the air, on the ground, at sea, as well as in space and cyberspace in a seamless way that was not yet available to modern soldiers.”

The new commander of the United States Northern Command, General Glen VanHerck, was even supposed to admit to journalists that the demonstration convinced him that software systems based on “artificial intelligence” would actually be able to make recommendations that commanders can rely on to decide what they need to do in a fast-paced battle against potential opponents from China or Russia.

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“Future battlefields will be saturated with information. One of the most important goals of these trials was to present a stunning set of information that participants could synthesize, just like in a real operation … This forced commanders and operators to trust data analytics and AI to understand the battle. Valuing data as a primary combat resource, no less essential than jet fuel or satellites, is key to next-generation warfare” Will Roper – Air Force Deputy Secretary for Purchasing, Technology and Logistics said

The US Air Force believes the recent trials were “the greatest collaborative experiment in recent history.” As many as 70 industry teams, 65 government teams from each service [including the US Coast Guard], 35 military platforms, 30 geographic locations and 4 national test grounds participated in the trials. This “momentum” is understandable as the development of the ABMS has become a $ 3.3 billion US Air Force Department’s priority modernization effort over five years.

Additionally, it is a program that brings together all departments of the Department of Defense within a wider program known as Joint All-Domain Command and Control in all areas of JADC2. Thanks to it, information obtained in any place will be introduced into the general system, combined with other data [n large part through the use of “artificial intelligence“] and made available, depending on its importance, to relevant entities – including effectors.

The implementation of such a wide range of tasks in such a short time was possible thanks to: close cooperation of the US military with various industry partners as well as the use in many cases of components developed from products “obtained from available commercial technology”. According to the Americans, some capabilities of the ABMS system can already be used, and the progress of works is so great that subsequent tests are to be carried out approximately every four months, with increasingly complex operating scenarios.

Anyway, the scenario of the tests carried out at the turn of August and September this year was similarly “demanding”. It assumed a rapid build-up of the threat: first by the enemy launching cyber attacks, and then by jamming and dazzling American communications and observation satellites with laser systems. The next step was to simulate an attack by six “Russian” conventional cruise missiles [simulated by AN / BQM-167 targets] – fired against US targets from the air and sea.

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The threat elimination operation was divided into four stages – all carried out using the ABMS system. First, its ability to provide early warning of impending danger was tested. Later, the system was used to track approaching “Russian” ships and planes and establish their intentions. The next phase was related to the detection and repulsion of the cruise missile attack.

Throughout this operation, the Americans placed particular emphasis on the use of a large number of different types of observation systems in the process of creating a joint operational picture [COP]. They included the AN / MPQ-64 Sentinel three-coordinate radar known from the US military, but also many other sensors – including five completely new, competing solutions. However, each of them had to use standards developed by the US Department of Defense in such a way that they could be turned on on a “plug and play” basis.

The maintenance-free Lattice observation towers developed by Anduril Indiustries (equipped with radar stations and optoelectronic heads) are considered to be particularly useful in creating a barrier of early warning sensors. The data from these rapidly developed towers can be easily transferred to the command system, creating a local situational picture.

The attack by the “Russian” cruise missiles was simulated by the AN / BQM-167 unmanned aerial vehicles launched over the White Sands training ground in New Mexico. The success was huge, because for the first time in history, a brand new HVP missile with hypersonic speed, developed by the US Navy and Army forces, was used to shoot down these “rocket drones” [flying at a maximum speed of Mach 0.93].

Moreover, it was fired from a typical 155 mm M109 Paladin self-propelled howitzer. Importantly, during the trials, the use of ship cannons for this purpose was also tested. In this way, another technological barrier was exceeded, as a relatively inexpensive artillery shell [worth around USD 86,000] managed to shoot down a cruise missile that costs several times more. It was also reminded that the anti-missile used in the Patriot system costs about $ 3 million. This is a significant increase in the American defense capabilities and the announcement of, inter alia, revolutionary changes in the tactics of surface ships.

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However, it should also be noted that the use of AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles fired from multi-role F-16 aircraft or unmanned aerial vehicles MQ-9 Reaper was also considered in the fight against hypersonic maneuvering missiles during ABMS trials.

The greatest achievement of the tests, however, was not the knocking down of air targets, but the successful combination of information obtained from as many as sixty different types of sources in this operation and the creation of the so-called the kill chain using 4G and 5G networks. In addition, the time of creating such a “chain”, i.e. the time that elapses from the moment of detection of the threat to the transfer of the attack order for a specific effector, actually took several seconds.

Observers were particularly surprised by the effectiveness with which data could be transferred to a variety of users from strategic to tactical levels. This is a big progress taking into account the fact that the first ABMS tests carried out in December 2019 focused only on checking the possibility of combining various sensors using the appropriate software. However, even then, the ability to connect the SpaceX Starlink constellation to the AC-130 gunship “artillery” aircraft and covert data exchange between F-35 and F-22 fighters. Currently, analysis and data transfer have been added to this, creating the backbone connections required to build the military Internet of Things [mIoT].

The US military believes that what is a joint command and control in all areas has just been developed – JADC2 (JAD Command and Control). Earlier, it was possible to talk only about JADSA Situational Awareness [JAD Situational awareness], because the very process of separating information into effectors and users was too long and complicated.

During rehearsals, the Americans also admitted to having problems with coverage because often very distant points and throughput worked together – especially in the days leading up to the exercise. This was clearly visible when the SIPR [Secret Internet Protocol Router Network] military network was used for communication “used to transmit classified information at the secret level”.

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