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Raytheon: App Stores To Take Over ISR

by Mike Hoffman on July 10, 2012

FARNBOROUGH, England — Raytheon leaders want intelligence analysts to have an App store stocked solely with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance apps built just for them.

It’s just part of the future for ISR according to Brooke Griffith, a senior director for Raytheon’s Information and Intelligence Systems, who expects future soldiers to tailor apps on the fly to fulfill a ground commander’s needs. He said here Tuesday at the Farnborough International Airshow that he also sees a future not necessarily littered with drones and one where cyber protection is even more important.

To keep up, the U.S. military will have to change the way it buys weapons. The advance of technology simply won’t wait for the Pentagon’s stodgy acquisition systems to catch up. Raytheon leaders who led a discussion on the future of ISR said the military must learn from the Amazon’s and the Apple’s of the world and how they rapidly develop technology.

The amount of data that is ready to drown analysts as sensor balls continue to advance will force militaries to constantly keep devising analytical computer programs to pare down the deluge and point out trends or highlight unusual activity. That’s where the apps concept comes into play. Analysts should be able to constantly communicate with deployed commanders and develop the tools they need to mine these mountains of data.

This influx of programs will further place emphasis on cyber security, Raytheon officials said. Vulnerabilities exist as most militaries depend on technologies such as GPS to run their vehicles, aircraft and equipment.

Don’t rule out established countries making a run on offensive cyber weapons if it hasn’t happened already. There’s a blurry line that separates what military officials can accomplish with ISR and a computer virus. Griffiths used SIGINT sensors as an example. Why weigh down an aircraft with a SIGINT ball when a military could introduce a virus into the cell towers to track phone conversations? The U.S. needs to do a better job at eliminating duplicated systems in this realm, he said.

U.S. military officials can’t expect to continue to depend so much on unmanned aerial vehicles to provide ISR. An enemy with even moderate air defenses will make them much tougher to operate, especially if an adversary can attack the downlink connecting the UAV to the pilot.

Griffiths said he expects a renewal in the need for manned aircraft in in ISR to counter those threats. Adding sensors and pilots will weigh down aircraft, but they will be necessary. UAVs won’t be entirely scratched, but a  mix of manned and unmanned aircraft will be needed, he said.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Miachael July 10, 2012 at 4:31 pm

Mix of UAV and manned aircrafts sounds reasonable.

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Matt July 10, 2012 at 4:40 pm

An App store? This is just stupid. This is what happens when a bunch of gray ponytails (minus the ponytails) in defense academia get their hands on an I Pad for the first time. They are like grandma sitting on the couch, "oh boy, now lets get some apps"…. as if "Apps" are just these magical things. Now they want an App store for their ISR and UAVs with what, 5 apps in the store? Waste of money, effort, time, resources.

More logical to have a common software and write common code according to platform.

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blight_ July 10, 2012 at 5:10 pm

All I saw was a need for new programs.

I don't see where the store comes in. Do you have lots of people writing apps that need a common distribution point and serve as an update repository?

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Matt July 11, 2012 at 10:51 am

Sure, there needs to be customized packages for the specific system or platform but cross compatability in software expected in "universal apps" just sounds like another beuracracy, name, or department to do the job that someone else was already supposed to be doing, which is enhancing the longevity and software packages on exisitng platforms that perform specific missions with specific equipment.

One thing I hate about apps is the built in limitations as it has to be compatible on all platforms… Can you imagine being in a gunship, as weapons officer, or anywhere while using these Raytheon tools, under pressure to perform and since you have the universal ap on your Raytheon gear, you dont have X feature or Y feature that your platform might actually be capable of.

I am not saying they cant tweak the aps per platform but again, it would seem like having a technician or contractor devoted to supporting and focusing on integrating their systems with the specific platform and enhancing the capabilities of that platform, rather than focusing on generalization, would produce the optimal results.

Am I missing something?

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Guy July 12, 2012 at 11:51 am

I think they have a point, if there was a common source for this software it would prevent a lot of the rework that happens as someone working on one platform re-invents a process that has already been established for another.

This happens in the corporate world where different parts of a company are silos and they all create different programs to do the same thing, this winds up being a blight on the overall organization because instead of refining and improving a single robust process, you have many smaller brittle processes that don't work well with each other and require more effort to maintain. It also introduces a lot of politics and trible knowledge which is definitely not healthy for the overall organization.

If they want to be able to competitively develop higher quality solutions faster and more efficiently, then some kind of central repository is necessary. I would agree that "App store" is an awful choice of words to describe it.

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Vaporhead July 11, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Sweet! I just downloaded one of their new Apps and I'm currently flying a Reaper over one of Irans nuke complexes! Bombs awaaaayyyyyyyyyyy!

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BILL D July 11, 2012 at 2:37 pm

While you're at it take out all of their oil processing facilities–hurt them even more in the wallet.

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Matt July 11, 2012 at 5:46 pm

I wish. I have these fantasies where the future of warfare incorporates gamers sitting stateside on an xbox live type connection and hundreds of thousands of robots deployed downrange. Lose a robot, spawn back to the mothership or deploy ship, It's not far fetched that in a future total war type situation that all resources will be commanded and since gamers are constantly in a war state looking thru a screen controlling what amounts to a robot anyways, why not put their valuable skills to actual use? Even with basic current tech, robotic tracked vehicles with machine guns, a force of 4-8 "players" controlling the droids with proper situational awareness could be devastating in many situations.

There are potentially 100 million robot warriors in the US alone and we are probably the only country in the planet with the capital to field a robotic army controlled from the homeland.

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Matt July 11, 2012 at 5:49 pm

Robots and the people controlling them have no fear of death. Especially if there is a large supply of more robots.

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blight July 12, 2012 at 12:40 am

A re read of the words ‘on the fly’ suggests that they may be more interested in ‘open’ source where apps can be changed and posted up to the repository as needed. Like git or subversion?

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