Role of C4ISR Capability

C4I Special Report

The battlefield is becoming digital to counter the enemy movement even in the dead of the night or despite an inclement weather creating hassle for the advancement in most difficult terrine conditions.

The war cannot stop even for a moment because a single pause can give enormous advantage to the enemy which will quickly regroup and launch a counter attack. Thus, quick processing of information will hold the key.

The rapid development in the field of electronics, optoelectronics and IT’ in the last decade, nowadays the most powerful armies in the world have as their objectives in a field of research & development (R&D) program digital battlefield concept or C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance).

The main goal of C4ISR systems is building a digital battlefield infrastructure to achieve information superiority with valid and useful real time information.

Establishing a good C4ISR system with a battlefield operational picture in real time, one can have strategic and tactical advantages.

The amount of information has great significance, but its impact on decision making is not linear.

The overall effectiveness of C4ISR relating to the traditional military mode of control and command in a function of the amount of available information and spending time for decision making is changing very fast.

The system efficiency is changed by the exponential law so that a large quantity of available information above some level does not significantly contribute to the efficiency of the system.

In the case of the traditional way of command and control, insufficient amount of information in first time requires extensive time for a decision, while later due to the large influx of information, information processing takes a long time and the time for a decision making increases dramatically.

It is obvious that the C4ISR system achieves much higher efficiency and faster decision making.

Besides quantity, the critical parameter is the quality of available information, which is, in the case of C4ISR system, again much higher than in a classical mode. C4ISR infrastructure consists of a sensor network, information network and combat network. Sensors and sensor network have a key role in each C4ISR system.

Their main objectives are to collect as much information from the field as it is possible, process and convert it into information useful for the client.

Each of these sensors has different characteristics of visibility in electromagnetic spectrum. To cover bigger part of electromagnetic spectrum and to overcome shortcomings of each sensor, it is nowadays a noticeable trend of integrating multiple sensors with visibility characteristics in different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum into a unique multisensory system.

These systems typically integrate themselves a CCD or CMOS camera, an infrared (thermal imaging) camera, GPS sensor, an electromagnetic compass, a laser range finder and ground surveillance radar.

The goal is to provide real time multispectral picture of the scene in order to get better information and make valid decisions.

The term C4ISR architecture is used by the US and other militaries to refer to the organisational structure used by military forces in carrying out a mission.

The key aspect of C4ISR is command (authority and responsibility) and control (exercising authority over subordinates).

These two indivisible aspects of leadership are referred to as C2. Since communications and computer technology are important in carrying out these leadership functions in a large organisation, the acronyms C3 and C4 are used to include these facilities.
Since leadership cannot be carried out without information of some kind, the acronyms C3I and C4I are used to include intelligence, which means the collection of relevant information.

The acronym C4ISR includes two specific sources of information: surveillance (systematic observations of something) and reconnaissance (observations on a specific occasion).

Information has always been one of the parameters of power, but in recent decades, rapid advance in the field of information technology enabled it to become a key factor for winning the battles and wars.

For effective command and control it is necessary to achieve continuous flow of real time valid information, to improve efficiency in processing them and to provide safe and fast information transfer.

The old model of C4ISR system was designed so that all information (data) flowed through the line Sensor-Commander-Soldier.

This concept has dramatically changed in last few years and new direction in which information needs to flow was taken.

The old model, in which the senior commanders handled the collection and analysis of the information and then pushed that down to their subordinates as they felt was needed, has been stood on its head.

The commander and HQ’s were overcrowded with a bunch of yet non-processed information and communication bandwidth was too small to support all this data.

The goal is to develop the ability for individual soldiers to acquire, tailor and prioritize information they need to complete their mission, and for them to be able to relay information they collect on the ground back to the network so that others can take advantage of it.

Market trend

The command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance & reconnaissance (C4ISR) market is estimated to be valued at USD 94.60 Billion in 2017 and is projected to reach USD 115.78 Billion by 2021.

Global spending on C2/C4ISR systems is expected to remain robust up until 2021, primarily due to the increased importance of C2/C4ISR systems in modern or fourth-generation warfare.

Modern conflicts include a mix of physical combat, mental and tactical elements, where the enemy could be a nation or a faction of society such as a terrorist group.

In such situations, C2/C4ISR systems are considered by most nations to be the most important tools for victory.

The market, which consists of land, space, naval and airborne systems, is set to rise from $16.2bn in 2011 to $21.8bn by 2021, increasing at a compound annual growth rate of 2.98 per cent.

This is primarily because key markets, such as the US, are expected to prioritise spending on C2/C4ISR systems; an element of defence spending that was not given much importance until the Afghan and Iraqi conflicts. Land-based systems are likely to account for the majority of the global C2/C4ISR market, followed by airborne, naval and space systems. Over the forecast period, cumulative global expenditure on C2/C4ISR systems should reach a value of $209.1bn.

Together, land, airborne and naval systems will account for the largest share of the total C2/C4ISR market over the forecast period: land- based systems will claim 49.9 per cent, airborne systems 23.6 per cent and naval systems 17.1 per cent.

The demand for land, airborne and naval systems is expected to increase, as key spenders such as Brazil, China, India, the UK and the US launch new procurement programmes.

Countries facing conventional threats, such as territorial disputes and hostile neighbours, will also drive the demand for such systems.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan highlighted the importance of C2/C4ISR systems in modern warfare and as a result many countries are now focusing on developing their capabilities.

Global defence cuts, combined with a substantial increase in the cost of developing technologically superior weapons platforms, have encouraged collaboration between governments, services and industries.

This has led to in-country and cross-border consolidation, and an increase in joint development and procurement programmes, which are expected to continue over the next ten years.

The US and Canada are the largest defence spenders in North America and it is forecast that land, airborne and naval systems will dominate the C2/C4ISR market in the region.

The top markets in Europe are expected to be France, Russia and the UK, while China, India and South Korea will be the leading markets in Asia, as these countries face threats such as territorial disputes, domestic unrest and a regional arms race.

Among Latin American countries, Brazil is expected to dominate C2/C4ISR spending by procuring destroyers, frigates and amphibious ships. Middle Eastern procurement, represented by Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE is expected to centre on land and space systems due to the looming threat of regional disputes and terrorism.

The year 2016 promises to be an interesting time, with the global war on terror continuing unabated, shifts to national leadership with the presidential election next fall, and international tensions heightening in the Western Pacific involving the military expansion of China.

An air and naval base is being established by China in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea between the Philippines and Vietnam, in which US military and government forces believe to be international waters. The US Navy continues military patrols in the area, while China warns dire consequences for continuing to do so.

Expanding role of ISR

On the other side of China, India is looking to the US to buy sophisticated reconnaissance and attack unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to counter what Indian officials claim are border incursions by China.

With these conditions in place, one can look to see increased emphasis in 2016 on military technologies like anti-submarine warfare and cooperative sonar.

There will be a higher spending on cyber warfare, military UAVs for battlefield and shipboard cargo delivery; adaptive radar and electronic warfare (EW); passive radar and sonar; augmented reality; laser weapons; unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) mother ships able to deploy forces of covert reconnaissance and attack UUVs; developments in persistent surveillance; and advanced data mining to uncover potential terrorist threats in social media.

Anti-submarine warfare will be important to keep Chinese submarine developments in check.

China not only is starting to deploy advanced nuclear attack and ballistic missile submarines throughout the world, but also is developing nuclear ballistic missiles designed to destroy US carrier battle groups.

Cooperative sonar, meanwhile, involves many different passive sensors working together to pinpoint and track distant targets.

Cyber warfare remains of critical importance as suspect Russian, Chinese, and Iranian computer hackers have gained access to US government agencies, as well as to power grids throughout the US in efforts to probe perceived weaknesses.

UAVs for cargo and shipboard cargo deliver will see increased attention in 2016 as machine autonomy and optionally piloted helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft technology make it feasible to keep forward-deployed troops and sailors supplied without putting human lives at risk.

Adaptive radar and adaptive EW technologies are progressing such that digital technologies can be exploited to reprogram radar and EW systems on the fly to adapt to changing conditions.

Passive radar and sonar technologies in the future, likewise, will be important for their stealth value. Both technologies will work without transmitting active signals and will rely on advanced digital signal processing.

Augmented reality involves superimposing icons to indicate targets, friendlies, obstacles, and other features on imagery in weapon sights, head-up displays, soldier-worn goggles, and other optical devices.

The idea is to blend real-time images with computer graphics to give warfighters an enhanced view of the battlefield.

Laser weapons are poised to take lead roles as fighter aircraft weapons, as well as laser deck guns aboard surface warships.

The big advantage to laser weapons-at least in theory-is they never run out of ammunition, so long as a power source is available.

Persistent surveillance is as important in the war on terror, as well as for conventional warfare, as it has ever been.

The idea is to look at specific areas for long periods of time, filter out what’s routine, and focus on things that are out of the ordinary, which could lead to predicting terrorist attacks or other military events.

Enhancing capability

Modern C4ISR Systems provide unprecedented advances in military capability. C4ISR systems are now necessary needed to win in a war. Success in modern warfare is also a matter of location, so the development of a COP for integrated air and ground operations is a basic objective.

The C4ISR systems are necessary to create a comprehensive picture of the environment for the purpose of conducting both military and civilian command and control functions.

Because it is important to distinguish between several fundamentally different concepts, failure to do so sometimes confuses the debate over interoperability.

Without advances in ISR capabilities, the armed forces will not be able to take full advantage of advanced C4I systems. The ISR systems are not only difficult to acquire technologically but they are also expensive.

So it is imperative for the armed forces to cooperate in this field. The burdensome and lengthy acquisition process makes C4ISR systems more costly than needed. The systems quickly become obsolete, especially when compared to those in the commercial world.

The geographic areas involved are typically large and can be a nation or a larger theater of operation. Therefore, the subsystems are connected by the means of a communications network, typically a WAN, and communication links, which feed information into and out of the command communication and control system.

The necessary data is collected from a variety of sources, including intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), and analyzed and acted upon by a decision-making.

Decisions are made based upon the data provided in the command and control center, and tasking for resources is directed as a result of those decisions.

Observe, orient, decide, and act effectively which is the basic goal of the C4ISR mission cycle. During the observe phase, ISR resources collect the data necessary for a complete assessment of the environment and adversaries.

During the orient phase all collected raw data is processed, correlated and fused into useable format to create a mission focused understanding of the adversary and the battle space.

During the decide phase, commanders use the information and understanding of the adversary to decide on an execution plan.

During the last phase, act, the plans are executed. During the observe phase, ISR sensors gather necessary data. The sensors are deployed in many platforms to detect acoustic, electromagnetic, visual and infrared data.

Real time data

The need for continuous and timely data to drive the decision making process especially requires modern, effective ISR systems.

The effectiveness of a C4ISR system directly impacts three major factors: (a) the quality and timeliness of the data provided by the ISR systems, (b) the quality of the information created from the data, and (c) the quality of the decision-making process.

In recent years, interoperability has been the most significant issue in the C4I community. Joint and combined forces must be fully interoperable in the conduct of land, sea and air operations.

The underpinnings of interoperability provide for the common understanding of information. The US Department of Defense has made encouraging progress in the area of joint information interoperability since the Joint Staff created the ‘C4I for the warrior’ program nearly 10 years ago.

In spite of that, major deficiencies still remain in joint information interoperability that could significantly impede joint operations by the US armed forces.

These deficiencies illustrate the fundamental issue that the services’ C4I systems typically are not born joint. Therefore, the armed forces have to address the interoperability problem seriously.

Integration is generally considered to go beyond mere interoperability to involve some degree of functional dependence.

For example, a mission planning system might rely on an external intelligence database, or an air defence system-on an acquisition radar.

While interoperable systems can function independently, an integrated system loses significant functionality if the flow of services is interrupted.

Compatibility is something less than interoperability. It means that systems or units do not interfere with each other’s functioning, but it does not imply the ability to exchange services.

In two IBMs-compatible PCs, for example, it is difficult to exchange between MS Word documents and Arirang documents.

Interoperable systems are by necessity compatible, but the converse is not necessarily true. Mere compatibility between information systems is inadequate to enable network-centric operations because it does not facilitate information sharing.

In sum, interoperability lies in the middle of an integration continuum between compatibility and full integration.

Initial C4I systems were designed to solve a particular set of problems confronting an organization, but the users soon found out that no C4I system can operate completely independently without relying on external information sources.

Examples of these can be found in all types of C4I systems, whether military, commercial, or industrial. Take, for example, the process of seat reservations in the airline industry whereby the airlines enter into code-sharing agreements with other airline companies in order to enable the transfer of passengers.

It is not designed for the passenger to book his flight itinerary with each individual company; it is the obligation of the first company to provide that kind of transfer service.

Likewise, in banking, C4I systems are designed to transfer money from one bank to the other: it is not the responsibility of the customer to deposit directly his checks only to the issuing banks.

These examples show how independent systems are enabled to perform similar functions because of their mutually dependent relations.

On the other hand, there are models of cooperation whereby two associated systems have no common functional relationship.

When two unrelated C4I systems have to operate together, the common operation is termed “interoperability.”

For instance, a totally independent C4I system for air traffic control must stay in touch with a totally independent C4I system of a weather bureau.

In the military sphere, for example, a ground force has to be associated with air support through a C4I system.

In these examples, not only does each C4I system operate independently but it may also be designed in a completely different configuration with different techniques and procedures from the others.

For the interoperability of any two systems to succeed, these two systems must be able to communicate with each other.

In other words, the output of one system must be able to serve as the input of the other system. Interoperability is much more than simple communication between two independent computers.

Under the condition of interoperability, one system must be able to regard the other system as one of the sources of its data input required for its decision-making.

Both systems must be able to send and receive information as they need it, with an online connection and with a real-time response.

In other words, the two systems must not only be able to communicate with each other but also to operate together. System interaction must not be confused with system interoperability.

On the other hand, interacting systems are related and have both a direct or indirect effect on each other; using similar techniques and common equipment, whereas interoperable systems are completely unrelated.

The only common media between them is that each system possesses information that can assist the operation of the other system.

The design of system interaction is much easier and simpler than that of interoperability. Bearing in mind the master system design, the transfer of data between each of the subsystems is defined by one organization.

That is, the organization determines what information is to pass between the subsystems, how it is to be transferred, who is authorized to update the files, and who is authorized to see what is in the files.

In a banking C4I system, for instance, the head office has full control of the branches’ decisions and is provided with means for nullifying all local transactions.

With system interoperability, the situation is completely different. Each system does not only operate independently but is also controlled by different organizations and may even be located in different countries.

There is a need for exchange of information between the systems, but this does not allow one system to update the files of another, not to mention that one system must not be allowed access to the files of the other system.

Interoperability method

The interoperability systems may even belong to competitive organizations. Take for example two airline companies, which are associated in providing the passenger with a service of extended flights with both companies.

This does not mean that one airline company has the right to change the operations of the other company. With system interoperability, each system must define what information can flow between companies and introduce strict security measures to ensure that this right is not unduly exploited.

Furthermore, special recording logs must be inserted in both systems to register all transactions for possible later analysis. Security measures in both systems need not be identical, as each can follow its own procedures. System interoperability constitutes a major design issue.

The designer knows only what information he needs to receive or transmit to operate. Each system may keep its own procedures secret from associated systems.

It follows that while the designer must provide means for free information transfer between the systems, he must at the same time ensure that the transfer is limited only to the information agreed upon by both systems.

This indicates another difference between interaction and interoperability. Whereas designs for interaction are based on standards, those for interoperability are based only on mutual agreements.

Therefore, combined interoperability is not only a technical problem, but also it contains a lot of potential military and political problems. ISR Assets Recent experiences in Bosnia, Kosovo, Somalia, and Afghanistan have demonstrated the need for improved information superiority in order to achieve full situation awareness in conducting successful campaigns.

One can expect an even greater requirement for information superiority in future conflicts. The information must provide a complete and timely picture of the adversary across the full spectrum of threats.

With a strong appreciation of the value of ISR, the US armed forces invested heavily in ISR capabilities. As a result, they lead the way in ISR in the global arms modernization process.

ISR systems are not only difficult to acquire technologically but are also expensive. So there is a pressing requirement for the armed forces to cooperate with the US armed forces in this field.

The burdensome and lengthy acquisition process makes C4ISR systems unnecessarily costly.

The systems acquired over many years quickly become outmoded and obsolete and lose their appeal among the services, especially when their capabilities are compared to the ones available in the commercial world.

These legacy systems are difficult to use and maintain. Since all systems progress through a life cycle, at some point all of them will need to be retired or upgraded.

Since difficulties stem from rapid advances in the underlying information technologies, a process needs to be established and continually improved to determine and manage change.

Part of this process must involve some mechanisms of liaison and coordination with the commercial development world of information technology.

Commercial investment and the speed of technology development in the IT field of greatly exceed military R&D and acquisition processes.

From a commercial point of view, issues of interoperability, cost, and technology upgrades are essential. These issues are of increasing importance to the military, too, but other armed forces have a poor record of addressing these issues in a timely and constructive fashion.

Affordability requirements demand the use of commercial standards that will enable interoperable systems and components.

The open-system architecture will enable plug-and-play insertion of new components as technology matures. Manning requirements must be reduced to enable the attainment of national objectives within reasonable budgets.

In C4I development, interoperability compliance should be a go/no-go criterion for acquisition decisions. Mechanisms should be established to facilitate identification and resolution of interoperability issues between services and agencies during the development process.

When the armed forces are developing C4ISR systems, they have to emphasize the need to maintain a required balance between C4 and ISR.

Now in the midst of information warfare where IT advances have increased the ability to gather, process, store, display, and transmit information.

This means that the preponderance of technical advances that offer new opportunities for improving military effectiveness are information-based.

In the past, different nations had different approaches on how to best take advantage of new technologies for the conduct of war.

The winners were those armed forces that developed appropriate operational concepts and made the organizational changes necessary to get the maximum military effectiveness from new technologies in military systems.

Therefore, the armed forces should consider new concepts of operations and organizational relationships in their exploitation of new C4ISR capabilities.

To organize a military service around a highly distributed, horizontally integrated and bandwidth-unlimited information and ISR architecture would certainly be revolutionary.

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