welcome to “collaborative combat”

Welcome to “collaborative combat”: armies are at the dawn of a new era where the networking of all soldiers and equipment must multiply their strength, at the risk of new technological vulnerabilities.

Behind the misunderstood ideas of the “system of systems” or “operational bubble” emerges “another way of fighting”, “connected to connectivity” between ways that engage more in their own capacities, which deciphers a high-ranking French covered anonymously.

At the heart of the collaborative fight, data and information sharing. “We are moving from a mode of operation in silos to a horizontal and vertical operation where we give the soldier, regardless of his level, the ability to provide information, to make decisions”, explains Cyril Dujardin, boss of digital security in Atos, on the occasion of the main international military exhibition Eurosatory, organized north of Paris this week.

The French computer giant provides the French force with SICS, an information system embedded in new generations of French armored vehicles (Griffon, Jaguar, Serval) as part of the Scorpion program.

The positions of the friendly forces are indicated in real time and the orders sent through this terminal, where the command post and the platoon leader in his vehicle are equipped.

“Now, it is centered on vehicles, the idea is to include the infantryman, to disseminate information more widely to have a better knowledge of the tactical situation”, explains Armament general engineer (IGA) Delphine (the French army banned the publication of the surnames of its members), architect of future ground combat systems in the General Directorate of Armaments (DGA).

The idea of ​​a connected battlefield emerged in 1999. “You have to be brave when you see what mobile telephony and the internet were like back then”, says the high -ranking Frenchman. “This gave the Scorpion weapons program its first deliveries in 2019, it lasts 20 years”.

The program allowed France to be a pioneer and is now “5 to 10 years ahead of collaborative combat” compared to other countries, except the United States, according to a French industrialist.

“But Scorpion is the prehistory of what we are looking for in 2040: a cohesive joint battlefield”, according to the high -ranking official.

The Future Air Combat System (Scaf) as well as its ground equivalent, the Franco-German MGCS, should see the light of day on this horizon.

– Avoid “infobesity” –

In the long run, sensors aboard vehicles should, for example, allow by communicating in an automated manner to triangulate and therefore to locate enemy forces. A drone that detects the enemy’s weapon can send its position to a tank better equipped to destroy it.

“Right now, we only show information, the idea is to move to a prescriptive and predictive collaborative fight depending on the situation on the ground”, abounds Cyril Dujardin.

All of this requires a powerful means of communication. Therefore, the Thales defense and technology team should begin delivering the 25,000 Contact radio software ordered by the French army by 2023 and should provide NATO with the first examples of “cloud deployed” systems by the end of 2022.

Actually, this would make it possible to run all of IT of a NATO command post in a theater in “cloud” mode, i.e., by allowing the integration of computing resources and storage of servers. on the site.

Faced with all this technology, the danger of “infobesity” awaits. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure that the operator receives only what he needs for his mission and that “communications are more economical”, according to IGA Delphine.

It is also a question of consideration of the risk of jamming that is widely used during the conflict in Ukraine.

When one radio frequency is jammed, automatic mechanisms make it possible to switch to other frequencies.

We also need a “network mesh”, if a link is broken, we go through another node ”, we observe in Airbus.

And provide for operation in “degraded mode”. For this, a track that should lead to approximately 2025 plans to inject artificial intelligence into network management. In case there are inconveniences associated with jamming, they will be able to reconfigure themselves to prioritize the most important data flow.

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