Underwater data acquired by a CMRE underwater robot network operating at 2,000 km distance from operational commands was integrated for the first time in near real-time in NATO and national C2 and COP systems in CWIX 2016 at JFTC, Poland.
The NATO Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE) participated for the fourth time in a row in the major NATO interoperability exercise CWIX. The Coalition Warrior Interoperability eXploration, eXperimentation, eXamination, eXercise (CWIX) is held every year at the Joint Force Training Centre (JFTC) in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
During CWIX 2016, CMRE scientists integrated for the first time in NATO and national Command and Control (C2) and Common Operational Picture (COP) systems the positions, tracks, intended tracks and observations acquired by a network/fleet of underwater robots in near real-time. These systems included the NATO COP (NCOP). This underwater robot network has long endurance (non-propelled gliders), is focused on Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) tasks and participated in the LOGMEC16 (Long-Term Glider Missions for Environmental Characterization 2016) scientific sea-trial along the Italian coast. This sea-trial took place for two months (May and June 2016) at 2,000 km distance from operational commands at the JFTC, Poland. These efforts demonstrated the interoperability between CMRE maritime information gathering systems and NATO and national maritime and joint systems. As such, the Maritime ISR robotic network is proved to be capable to prepare and inform NATO missions.
For CWIX 2016, oceanographic underwater information collected and locally processed, as part of the LOGMEC16 task, was provided directly from the sea by the robots to remote systems participating in CWIX at JFTC. Additionally oceanographic forecasts were also delivered after assimilating on a daily basis the observations acquired by the underwater glider network. Among others, distributed parameters consisted in water currents and sound speed (estimated from water temperature and salinity). Following exercises will expand the range of environmental, contextual and physical observations and forecasts to include acoustic, optical, electromagnetic and other tactical relevant information, thus improving the overall characterization of the battlespace and contributing to the NATO Recognized Environmental Picture (REP) concept.
The oceanographic observations and forecasts from the gliders were further utilized by the CMRE Rapid Acoustic Prediction Service (RAPS). This service provided fully automated sonar performance assessments for multiple assets engaged in Anti-Submarine Warfare. The resulting sonar performance surfaces were visualized in CWIX 2016 directly on national C2 systems (and NCOP) and could highlight gaps in coverage. This level of tactical situational awareness allowed platforms to be re-directed to ensure that the task groups could maintain consistent coverage of an area.
Significant benefits can be anticipated to NATO Forces coming from this technology. First of all, a tactical exploitable knowledge of the environment based on superior technology is essential for both joint and maritime operations. CMRE systems experimented at CWIX will improve the characterization of the battlespace and make information available in near real-time into NATO and national C2 and COP systems in an automated way. Moreover, at sea, the use of underwater robots, non-propelled gliders in particular, offers a long-endurance, stealth, safe and secure solution not only to NATO navies but also to civilian research activities, mostly important in high risk, expeditionary scenarios.