A U.S. defense contractor has designed and built a high-tech facility
for the sole purpose of helping military and homeland security agencies
understand the applications of networked systems.
The 50,000-square-foot center, located in Suffolk, Va., was developed
by Lockheed Martin Corporation, of Bethesda, Md..
Using interactive video screens, modeling, simulation and visualization
systems, as well as engineering and analysis capabilities, technicians
can build, for example, a globally interconnected web to share data,
explained program manager Sam Guthrie.
The center uses a simulated global-information-grid test bed to
allow customers to conduct experimental work on net-centric systems.
“We are creating an environment where our customers’
experimentation and analysis will be as close as possible to the
networked world in which they will exist,” Guthrie said. “We
are not prisoners of how things are done today. Our job is to figure
out better ways of doing things.”
The goal of net-centric operations, Guthrie said, is to leverage
the power of all U.S. and coalition forces to give them an overwhelming
advantage on the battlefield.
To illustrate the possibilities of net-centric operations, Lockheed
created a video that simulates the discovery of a factory making
weapons of mass destruction in a mythical, unfriendly Middle Eastern
country and the hijacking of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles
In the video, the commander of a joint task force in a Navy carrier
strike group off the coast, communicating with a small special operations
team deployed on the ground, confirms that the factory is building
WMD and receives orders from the president to take it out.
After the aircraft are launched, however, the commander learns
that a convoy carrying such weapons is headed for a port, where
the devices will be put on a freighter for use in an attack against
the United States.
The commander diverts his aircraft to destroy the convoy and deploys
a cruise missile, launched from a submarine, to incinerate the factory.
Meanwhile, police in Georgia pull over a white car full of young
Middle Eastern men, who claim they are college students headed to
Texas. A background check turns up nothing, so the men are released.
Within hours in Alabama, a truck is found empty, bloody and abandoned.
The cargo was man-portable air-defense missiles. Federal authorities
put out an all-points bulletin, with a special emphasis on the route
between Alabama and Texas.
The white car is spotted near George Bush Intercontinental Airport
in Houston, where the occupants are busy unloading the missiles.
They are overwhelmed quickly by swarms of heavily armed FBI agents.
Lockheed officials conceded that the video presents a best-case
scenario, and that things could go wrong, even with the best technology.
“You’re never going to completely eliminate the fog
of war,” said Guthrie. “We’re just aiming to reduce
it as much as possible.”
The homeland defense and security initiative aims to enhance interoperability
between federal, state, local and private entities through improved
information sharing and actionable intelligence, said Lockheed Vice
President Dave Kier.
The idea is to develop alternative ways to protect the nation from
all manner of terrorist attacks, from a biochemical attack to a
cruise missile launched from a cargo ship, he said.
“We focus in on certain persistent problems,” said
George Papachristos, homeland security manager. “For example,
how do you access all of this intelligence data that’s out
there, and make use of it?”
Another issue, posed by Jon Armstrong, director of net-centric
operations is how to make a decision that can be implemented at
a lower cost, using fewer resources, “while putting fewer
Americans at risk.”
Lockheed intends to offer the center’s services to the intelligence
community, the Department of Homeland Security and related civilian
agencies, Armstrong said.
Featured on video screens are large electronic maps of the mid-Atlantic,
highlighting the national capital region, and east Texas, including
President Bush’s ranch in Crawford.
“Visualization is a key to the way we do business,”
said Mort Forker, director of force application. “A picture
really is worth a thousand words.”
Another initiative is focused logistics. “As good as our
military services are, we’re only as good as the equipment
and supplies that we have on the battlefield,” said the initiative’s
manager Dave Estep.
The goal of this effort is to help the services achieve their long-term
goal of improving the connection between factories and foxholes,
The company is seeking to find technology to enable planes, tanks
and ships to predict potential mechanical issues before they happen
by providing maintenance personnel with a diagnostic report of parts
that need service before they break down.
Lockheed also is investigating ways to bridge the “last mile”—delivering
critical supplies more quickly from in-theater depots into the hands
of war fighters in the field. The company plans to demonstrate a
prototype of an integrated logistics command-and-control system
that will connect ground vehicles, ships and aircraft with global
Lockheed officials acknowledge that the new center faces tough
competition. In the Hampton Roads area alone, a number of other
facilities already offer similar services.
The Joint Forces Command, for instance, operates a Joint Training,
Analysis and Simulation Center. Old Dominion University has established
the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center, also in Suffolk.
And a host of other companies operate laboratories to support the
military’s requirements for modeling and simulation. Included
are Northrop Grumman Newport News, TRW, Boeing, Raytheon and Booz-Allen