A team of experimenters, planners, data collectors and researchers gathered in San Diego, Calif., in June for the execution phase of Trident Warrior 2010, which is designed to validate advanced technology concepts when it comes to maritime experimentation of new technologies for the fleet.
TW10 is an annual sea trial event sponsored this year by Commander, Third Fleet and directed by U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFF). Yearlong planning culminates with at-sea experimentation of more than 100 critical maritime technologies, as well as the development of new or enhanced doctrine and processes to aid maritime forces. The execution phase of TW10 was conducted ashore at commands located in San Diego, other California locations and Hawaii, and at sea on ships in the Southern California and Hawaiian areas of operation. This year's exercise differs from past Trident Warrior exercises because TW10 experimentation integrated with the 3rd Fleet–sponsored Rim of the Pacific 2010 (RIMPAC 10) exercise in the Pacific Ocean, to leverage the mutual use of networks, technologies, scenarios and platforms.
Navy Capt. Carl Conti, USFF director of experimentation, said the purpose of TW10 is to look at technologies and procedures and accelerate the process of getting them to the warfighter, sometimes, in as little as 18 months.
"We're exploring the art of the possible," he said. "Trident Warrior tests emerging technologies, tactics, techniques and procedures that increase the capability of the warfighter. We identify the problems that challenge warfighters in areas, such as maritime situational awareness, and once we identify those, we'll find solutions and get those into the hands of the warfighter as soon as possible. Trident Warrior is the venue we use to validate the effectiveness of those new solutions."
TW10 is a team endeavor; participation includes: 3rd Fleet, USFF, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, the Naval Postgraduate School, and ships and multiple aircraft from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Air Force. Program executive offices and systems centers also provide technical and personnel support. Multinational participation includes: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of Singapore, France and Chile.
Conti said that having such a diverse group of participants can make a tremendous impact on the global maritime environment.
"Trident Warrior enables representatives from the defense industry, academia, government, DoD and partnering nations to come together to find these solutions. This builds relationships and will improve our ability to operate, communicate and fight effectively together during real-world military operations, humanitarian assistance and crisis responses."
TW10 assessed land and sea-based technologies organized into specific focus areas including: networks; coalition interoperability; information operations; command and control; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; electronic warfare/fires; cross-domain solutions; information transport; and maritime domain awareness.
"This experiment is important because it allows us to take existing and emerging technologies to sea, put them through rigorous tests, and see what works and what doesn't so we can learn those lessons and make the appropriate changes," said TW10 director Cmdr. David Varnes.
One capability that TW10 assessed is called Autonomous Maritime Navigation which essentially allows a boat to steer itself. The high-tech software turns a manned vessel into an unmanned surface vessel (USV) with sophisticated sensors that can be programmed to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance during MDA missions using a combination of X-Band radar, stereo cameras, a global positioning system, an inertial measurement unit, a second camera array, and a marine VHF-based automatic identification system. TW10 experimented with two of these USVs to see how they performed together, looking at their agility, portability and flexibility.
TW10 experimented with another unmanned technology known as Submarine Launched Un-manned Aircraft System (UAS). As part of the deployment of the Submarine Over the Horizon Organic Capabilities system, the Submarine Launched UAS utilized the submerged submarine's on-board trash disposal unit to perform an underwater launch of a canister containing a small Switchblade unmanned aerial vehicle. The system is designed for collection of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in a complex littoral environment. The UAV is then controlled by the submarine's combat control system to investigate possible high value targets and identify the location to relay this information back to the submarine's weapons control system for action. TW10 sought to determine if the submarine could successfully launch the UAV, control it, and determine if the data sent back was sufficient to identify a potential target.
Maritime trafficking is another mission area that TW10 addressed while evaluating the Signals Warfare Maritime Electromagnetic Dominance capability. SWARMED has potential to provide the ability to detect small craft used for illicit drug smuggling, migrant trafficking and piracy. Typically, these vessels try to operate "under the radar" and are difficult to detect using traditional identification systems and methods.
TW10 assessed SWARMED's ability to detect rogue vessels based on their electromagnetic signature. The National Reconnaissance Office initially collected a range of data from four boats, including a self-propelled semi-submersible vessel, known as Pluto, pier side to determine the electromagnetic signature for each boat. This information served as the baseline for comparison with data collected from the same boats at sea in a realistic operational environment.
Surface and subsurface sensors on three different boats collected water sensor and ground truth data against target boats at different courses, speeds, headings and target aspects. Ground truth is a term used to capture the importance of verifying targeting data. In remote sensing, this is especially important to relate image data to real features and materials on the ground and in the maritime environment. Key electronic signatures were identified and several terabytes of data were collected for analysis.
TW10 also looked to the air for some of its experiments, such as with the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) Intra-Flight Data Link (IFDL) Subsystem (BIS). BIS was developed in response to a warfighter requirement to share F-22 advanced sensor information with conventional fighter and operations centers. This low probability of detect/ low probability of intercept communications system provides the data exchange between the fifth generation F-22 Raptor's Intra-Flight Data Link and various Link 16 air and ground participants, including fourth generation fighter aircrafts.
TW10 assessed the potential warfighting gains that tactics employed by BIS could offer against air and maritime surface threats. The culminating event included eight Hornets and two Raptors facing 16 opposing force aircraft in an electronic attack environment.
Lessons from earlier Trident Warriors have directly benefited the fleet. A number of the initiatives that were tested have been fielded aboard the ships that participated in Trident Warrior as "leave behinds," and the results of other initiatives have accelerated the procurement process to speed this technology to the warfighter.
"That's what we're trying to do here, find ways to use what we have more effectively, as well as trying to do it faster, because just going out and buying things is not necessarily the best way to do business," Conti said. "So, [we are] trying to find ways to make it faster, cheaper, better in hopes of saving some time, and more importantly, saving lives."
Follow U.S. Fleet Forces Command and Commander, U.S. Third Fleet on Facebook or Navy News at www.navy.mil.
Robert Pursell provides support to U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Concept Generation/Concept Development (N9).