WASHINGTON — The breadth of the Pentagon’s multibillion-dollar investment in its centerpiece joint war-fighting strategy became clearer Friday in budget plans peppered with increases for the technologies essential for data-centric, networked battlefields of the future.
While the Defense Department’s fiscal 2022 budget request to Congress did not summarize high-level numbers for Joint-All Domain Command and Control, the services’ spending proposals provide clues, with allocation leaps for the Army teams working on the project and for the Air Force’s main contribution: the Advanced Battle Management System. The budget also highlights increased investment in emerging technologies that will make JADC2 systems run, including artificial intelligence projects that the DoD said increased by 50 percent.
The Air Force budget request contains the most substantial information about how much services might need to spend to reach the Pentagon’s vision of a connected force that can pass sensor data across domains in an instant to the soldier, airman, Marine or guardian who needs it. For ABMS, the service requested $204 million, a $46 million increase over the total enacted last year by Congress.
The Air Force wants the increase in order to improve information sharing across its fifth-generation tactical aircraft and command-and-control nodes. Related to its JADC2 efforts, the service asked for $8.8 billion in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, which the service said underpins ABMS.
“This approach accelerates decision making, improves command and control, and achieves decision advantage ahead of competitors,” the request stated.
The U.S. Army’s requested budget signaled investment in its multidomain operations effort, known as Project Convergence. According to Army officials, the service plans to spend $106.8 million on its Project Convergence demonstration, including $33.7 million for operations and maintenance and $73.1 million on research, development, testing and evaluation.
But the Army’s multidomain efforts extend beyond Project Convergence-dedicated funding. The Army’s modernization cross-functional teams also make key contributions to Project Convergence and the service’s overall multidomain operations. The eight teams would get $11.25 billion, $1.76 billion over their last combined budget.
The Army Network Cross-Functional team, which provides the network backbone of Project Convergence and JADC2, would receive a $537 million increase for total budget of $2.7 billion. Last year Congress awarded about $2.12 billion to the network team.
Details are scant on the Navy’s JADC2 contribution, known as Project Overmatch. At the Navy’s budget briefing, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Budget Rear Adm. John Gumbleton said that Project Overmatch is funded across three classified research and development lines.
However, many Navy information warfare programs will be important to Overmatch, including network sensors, manned and unmanned platforms, electronic warfare and other C4ISR sensors. The Navy’s information warfare request increased $256 million over its fiscal 2021 allocation to $5.87 billion.
A major contribution of the U.S. Space Force to the DoD’s growing JADC2 infrastructure is the Unified Data Library, a cloud-based data storage platform. The Air Force sees UDL as the foundation of the ABMS data architecture. So far, the library is mostly known as the Space Force’s central space domain awareness database, consolidating information about objects on orbit from government, academic and commercial sources to create a common operating picture for the joint forces. But the service is keen to adapt the platform for more uses within the JADC2 framework. The fiscal 2022 budget proposal requests $17.1 million for UDL.
With multidomain war-fighting efforts spread across services, a senior Joint Chiefs of Staff official said Thursday that the team need to closely coordinate their efforts.
“It means that we have to work together and work smart. And so we’re really looking at what can be leveraged. How do we reconcile the investments that are being made between the services and then how do we forge our way forward? So some of this is: Where do we eliminate duplication of effort?” Stuart Whitehead, the J-6 deputy director for cyber and command, control, communications and computers integration on the Joint Staff, said on a webinar.
The Pentagon is requesting $12.7 billion for command, control, communications, computers and intelligence systems, up from its $11.9 billion request last year. The increase is largely driven by $500 million boost in technology development, as well as $600 million increase in information security and assurance. The military wants to develop technologies including network gateways, management, waveforms and information assurance.
The efforts are part of an “overarching goal to defeat any adversary or control any situation across the full range of military operations is achieved through a broad array of capabilities enabled by an interconnected network of sensors, shooters, command, control, and intelligence,” the DoD budget weapons system budget book states.
As part of C4I systems, the department wants to increase spending for the Army’s Tactical Network Technology Modernization in Service program to $436.5 million, up from $411.2 million in fiscal 2021. That program allows Army and joint forces to access the DoD-Information Network and gives the military reliable connection to video, data, imagery and voice services. The program’s goal is to modernize the Army’s tactical network for multidomain operations.
In fiscal 2022, the service plans to upgrade TNT MIS for four expeditionary signal battalions-enhanced and 40 units across the Army, reserve and national guard to modernizing network transport systems and regional hub nodes, which direct DoD network traffic.
The department requested a $236.2 million boost to the Army-led Handheld, Manpack, Small Form Fit radio that is required to meet the needs of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and Special Operations Command. The HMS program includes one-channel rifleman radio, two-channel leader radio, and single-channel data radio in support of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System and Manpack radio.
The reprogrammable, networked, multinode radios support voice and data transmission needs across the joint force. The budget boost would fund procurement of leader radios, single channel data radio and manpack radios to five brigade combat teams and allows for follow-on testing for effectiveness, suitability and survivability.
Emerging technologies for JADC2
The Pentagon also wants to invest in a number of technologies that will enable JADC2, such as artificial intelligence and 5G networks. AI is a key component to almost every aspect of the military’s sensor-to-shooter plans. For example, the U.S. Army wants to use machine learning to process sensor data in near real time, automatically create targeting data for potential threats and recommend the best weapon system to respond.
The budget proposal counts 600 individual AI efforts across DoD — up 50 percent over fiscal 2021 — for which the Pentagon is seeking $874 million.
The FY22 budget proposal would continue investment in 5G wireless networks, which enable transformational increases in bandwidth and speed to move data from sensors to shooters. The Pentagon is seeking nearly $400 million for 5G efforts.
Perhaps most importantly, the Pentagon wants to continue putting money into microelectronics production, growing a domestic manufacturing base that can produce trusted components for DoD weapons systems. DoD describes the manufacturing base as “fragile and threatened,” forcing the military to rely on foreign-made components. The FY22 budget proposal sets apart $2.3 billion for the government’s microelectronics efforts, improving domestic capacity, procuring sufficient quantities of legacy microchips to sustain weapon systems in the near term, and increasing access to advanced microchips for next-generation weapon systems.
Nathan Strout contributed to this report.
Andrew Eversden covers all things defense technology for C4ISRNET. He previously reported on federal IT and cybersecurity for Federal Times and Fifth Domain, and worked as a congressional reporting fellow for the Texas Tribune. He was also a Washington intern for the Durango Herald. Andrew is a graduate of American University.