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FAS Project on Intelligence Reform

Real Time Information In the Cockpit

Real Time Information In the Cockpit [RTIC] provides realtime imagery and text targeting information into the cockpit of strike aircraft. That information may be provided over Link 16, or by SATCOM. In order for air mobility operations to be effective, the aircrew needs to be aware of the environment, both in the immediate area and from afar. This awareness needs to be made available in a timely manner and includes threat situation, command and control (mission updates/changes), delivery data (refined delivery location), present position, and weather.

Real Time Information in the Cockpit (RTIC) is a situational awareness capability to receive, process, and display real-time and near real-time information overlaid on photos and charts. The RTIC system is viewed as a conduit between aircraft systems and off-board information sources (Reconnaissance, Surveillance, Intelligence, Command and Control, other operational aircraft). It is one of several possible solutions that can improve aircrew situational awareness. The real-time information considered here refers to information collected by equipment not on-board the subject aircraft itself. Although the final product displayed in the cockpit may include the correlating of on and off-board information, RTIC deals with the enhancement of an aircraft’s mission performance through the import of information from off-board sources. The RTIC system interacts with the on-board systems as an added sensor with all of the potential capability of any or all off-board assets. It can be visualized as a system consisting of six functional parts: off-board information infrastructure; information (air & ground sources); communication system (on-board); on-board processing and storage; controls & displays; and decision aids. The type and amount of information required by the aircrew will drive the performance and capability of the RTIC system.

Primary deficiencies for each command that require an RTIC solution are as follows.

AMC has prepared a draft ORD which identifies the requirements for a RTIC system. ACC has an approved RTIC MNS document dated April 1994. AMC also has an approved MNS 002-93 . AMC’s AMMP 97 will describe characteristics to follow-on for the MSTS. ACC has created an internal RTIC IPT to study/assess RTIC requirements and has embraced the “Link 16” tactical datalink as their communications medium of choice.

There are no current mobility aircraft SPO programs implementing the acquisition of real-time information in the cockpit systems, although a few subsystem SPO efforts that are addressing pieces of RTIC capability have been identified. These efforts include Multi-source Tactical System (MSTS), Multi-mission Advanced Tactical Terminal (MATT), Joint Tactical Terminal (JTT), Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS), Multi-function Information Distribution System (MIDS), L-band SATCOM Capability, and carry-on Air Force Mission Support System (AFMSS).

The acquisition strategy that would provide potential solutions to ACC’s and AMC’s deficiencies divides the RTIC system development into three phases. Phase I is the “Off the Shelf” RTIC system requiring little or no development, but rather an integration of components available today. Phase II is defined as an “integrated” RTIC system that shares information directly with the other onboard systems. Phase II is also considered to be a system targeted for the existing Mobility fleet as a retrofit. A Phase II system development would include limited research and development. Phase III is an unconstrained view of what an RTIC system could be as we look forward in time given the technology trends of today. Phase III is seen as a system that would be developed for the next generation Mobility platforms. The development of a Phase III system will require significant research and development. w.

ACC’s and AMC’s current approach for a RTIC solution is piecemeal at best.

The overall purpose of this effort is to survey, develop, and implement capabilities and procedures to provide RTIC to strike aircraft. Now that the benefits of RTIC have been demonstrated (during Project Strike, for example), it is necessary to implement that capability in operational platforms. However, RTIC must be implemented in such a way to ensure that communications resources, or other missions are not seriously impacted. A multi-disciplinary effort is needed to achieve those goals. The following work program, which addresses RTIC from a multi-disciplinary, systems engineering point-of-view is proposed.

In FY98, the focus was on two primary topics. The first was to survey, compile, and assess existing capabilities, and programs related to transmitting realtime imagery and text targeting information into the cockpit of strike aircraft. The capabilities surveyed include existing (including COTS) hardware and software for transmitting imagery, and existing— as well as next generation—image compression techniques. Compression techniques were assessed in terms such as compression ratio, image quality, and processing requirements. The goals of this task were to identify the most promising capabilities and compression techniques for RTIC, and to estimate the amount of communications resources needed to transmit a typical RTIC image—a key parameter for allocating theater communications resources. The other topic of FY98 was assess the impact of RTIC on SATCOM in terms capacity and system availability (UHF SATCOM availability was an issue called out during the Project Strike II Demonstrations of 1996). The goal in FY99 will be to downselect from the FY98 candidate RTIC capabilities and techniques, the candidate which best supports the mission goals while minimizing the impact to the communications networks. Several types of imagery will be considered, for example Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), Moving Target Indicator (MTI), and photos.

Also in FY99, other tasks needed to develop and implement an effective, and practical RTIC capability will begin. Those tasks are:

Sources and Methods

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Created by John Pike
Maintained by Steven Aftergood

Updated Wednesday, January 13, 1999 6:56:27 AM