Last month, Lockheed-Martin brought an independently developed test aircraft, called the Airborne Multi-Intelligence Lab, to the Army’s C4ISR On-the-Move exercise,
Lockheed Martin's Airborne Multi-Intelligence Laboratory
which took place at and near Ft. Dix and Lakehurst, New Jersey. The AML is a repurposed used Gulfstream III corporate jet equipped with a large radome and commercial electronics racks; the aircraft is designed for testing the integration of multiple sensors and open architecture intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems, providing aggregation of multiple sensors right on the aircraft by analysts, who pass that data to operators on the ground.
I spoke with Lockheed’s Jim Quinn, vice president, and John Beck and Mark Wand, both with Lockheed’s business development group. Here’s the interview:
Jim Quinn: A little over 10 or 11 months ago, Lockheed martin made some decisions, investment decisions in particular that looked at where the customer set was going — some of their higher priority needs. This was driven both internationally as well as domestically, and the importance of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in supporting operations around the globe.
We recognized that a lot of the difficulty that our customers were having were trying to take advantage of multiple sensors, and to fuse and correlate that data in a way that it provided meaningful and actionable intelligence to war fighters on the edge. Whether they be war fighters on the edge or a command post or ground station that were trying to turn that information into usable knowledge.
We know that a lot of the platforms and sensors that are in operation around the world do that in a single int. fashion. They are a dedicated platform that collects a single (form of) intelligence, whether it be synthetic aperture radar, or FLIR (forward looking infrared), kinds of electro-optic sensors, or whether it be a sigint (signals intelligence) sensor, and then usually that data is transported by data link to some sort of ground station, and in many cases those ground stations are dedicated to the platform and the sensor that they are affiliated with. So we recognize the value of trying to have at our customers’ disposal and for our own experimentation, a platform that could take and plug-and-play various sensors in a multi-intelligence configuration. That would allow us to investigate how we take multiple inputs from sensors, and then either cross-queue or show the benefit of merging and synthesizing that data onboard the platform, and then pushing it down to the users on the ground. Whether it is a ground station or a user on the edge
So we made an investment, and procured a used (Gulfstream III) in the aircraft market with partners that we worked with in industry, We constructed a first set of sensors, and perhaps more importantly, we put on the aircraft a hardware and a software infrastructure that allowed those sensors over time to be plugged and played — that is, we could configure the hardback of the aircraft and the software infrastructure of it, the ability to take a sensor from various suppliers, whether it be one of our own or from a supplier in industry that was wanting to partner with us, and put it onboard the aircraft, and do that very very quickly.