/ / / / GCT 2014 Volume 5 Issue 3 (May)

Manned-Unmanned Teaming

  • Written by  Col. Tim Baxter and Col. Tom von Eschenbach
  • Published in Articles
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Security challenges of the future will be met by U.S. Army soldiers armed with the equipment we develop, procure and modernize today. The challenge we face is our ability to predict the future, anticipating operational requirements and incorporating flexibility into our materiel solutions. These efforts are marked by ever-evolving/cutting-edge technologies that have forever changed the way our military leaders prosecute combat operations. To remain successful, we must continually analyze operational doctrine and associated tactics, techniques and procedures. This facilitates development of solutions that allow our soldiers to successfully conduct a wide range of missions in broadly diverse environments. These efforts ensure success, providing the decisive advantage over our adversaries.

The soldier and squad form the foundation of our Army and compose the most discriminately lethal force on the battlefield. It is imperative that we maintain a strategy to equip our soldiers for tactical overmatch and enhanced survivability, through connectivity to an integrated network and enhanced mobility and lethality. A key tenet of this strategy is the expanded use of manned unmanned teaming (MUM-T).

MUM-T is not only the introduction of new technology, nor is it simply an improvement on current capabilities. Rather, it is the doctrinally-supported merger of manned air and ground capabilities with current and emerging unmanned system capabilities that provides the synchronized employment of soldiers, manned and unmanned air and ground vehicles, robotics and sensors.

The current objective of MUM-T is to augment the respective capabilities of manned and unmanned aviation systems through deliberate teaming and leverage of their complementary capabilities and inherent strengths. The MUM-T capability gives the Apache helicopter pilot another set of “eyes,” leveraging UAS to identify specific targets from much greater ranges, to determine the safest way in and out of the weapons engagement zone and to assist in engaging the target. The Apache can do this by receiving video and target data directly from Army UAS assets such as Gray Eagle or Shadow. The pilot can also use advanced interoperability features to control both the UAS payload and to a limited degree the actual flight path of the UAS.

Over the last 10 years, MUM-T capabilities have evolved due to the maturation of technology and the incorporation of lessons learned in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition to operational enhancement, the Army is also realizing efficiencies in life cycle cost from MUM-T through the use of common data standards.

In brief, the integration of MUM-T will provide:

  • Target engagements at longer ranges
  • Increased survivability of manned aviation platforms from threat acquisition and weapons systems
  • Significantly expanded situational awareness providing the warfighter the ability to see, understand, decide and act first
  • More reliable and timely combat information to provide unprecedented battle command capabilities and reduce collateral damage.

A difficult challenge associated with MUM-T is developing, testing and certifying the material solutions while establishing and maintaining interoperability among all Army manned and unmanned assets. Development costs to address this challenge involve the procurement of radios, terminals and software, along with integration and associated testing to ensure that the capability works as expected.

The guiding documentation for the definition and implementation of MUM-T solutions has been termed interoperability profiles (IOPs). While the scope of the IOPs is much broader than MUM-T, they are common to all UAS and manned assets within Army Aviation and serve as the basis for MUM-T development, testing and deployment.

Levels of interoperability (LOI) range from LOI 1, which is the indirect receipt of UAS payload data through the Army network, to LOI 5, which is control of UAS from takeoff through landing. LOI 1-5 are briefly described and represented in Figure I.

Levels of Interoperability 1-5:

  • Level 1 – Indirect receipt/transmission of UAS related payload data
  • Level 2 – Direct receipt of UAS video and other sensor information
  • Level 3 – Control of the camera and sensors on the UAS
  • Level 4 – Control of the flight path and payloads
  • Level 5 – Full control of the UAS, including take-off and landings

As the development and fielding of MUM-T progresses and the Army has identified and overcome numerous technical and doctrinal hurdles to reduce cost, increase quality, avoid integration delays and accelerate schedule, the Joint Technology Center–Systems Integration Lab (JSIL) at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., has taken on the role of UAS centerpiece for interoperability testing.

Previous Army studies and the ongoing doctrinal maturation are informing the organizations and personnel mix required to successfully integrate MUM-T. As an example, the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade’s (CAB’s) Attack Reconnaissance Squadron deployed to Afghanistan augmented with a Shadow troop consisting of two RQ-7 Shadow platoons, each with four air vehicles and two ground control stations. United States Army Aviation Center of Excellence (USAACE) conducted an assessment of the effectiveness of the 101st CAB task organization in December 2012 in OEF and found that the mix of manned and unmanned systems provided greater standoff for manned systems, increased overall area coverage in time and space, and increased situational awareness.

At the center of Army Aviation’s current MUM-T strategy is the cooperative employment between on-board and ground-based systems resident in the RQ-7Bv2 Shadow, MQ-1C Gray Eagle, AH-64E Apache and One System Remote Video Terminal (OSRVT). Each of these resident systems has the ability to share digital information utilizing the Tactical Common Data Link, including OSRVT ground user receipt of sensor data transmitted from UAS and AH-64E, AH-64E cooperative control of UAS sensors (LOI 3) and flight controls (LOI 4), and relay of voice communications using UAS communications relay payloads.

There is no question that past and current MUM-T tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) have been very successful. However, there is much more opportunity to fully develop and refine these TTPs beyond the pairing of Army rotary wing and UAS platforms.

Utilization of “plug and play” payloads ranging from electronic warfare, signal intelligence, and measure intelligence provide a host of other potential applications.

The type of MUM-T that occurs most often in theater has actually been between UAS and ground forces. UAS are being utilized for route reconnaissance, convoy security and overwatch of ground forces at a rate 10 times that of air weapons team teaming. Most influential to this utilization of UAS has been the fielding of the OSRVT to nearly all ground forces. The OSRVT provides real-time full motion video to the soldiers on the move in a mobile, compact computer receiver system.

The OSRVT has provided the soldiers who are in the most vulnerable positions situational awareness when and where they need it the most. The maneuver commanders so value the UAS in a security or overwatch position that many times UAS coverage becomes part of the Go/No-Go criteria for a ground movement mission. Additional MUM-T TTPs have been leveraged with field artillery batteries, personnel recovery teams, human intelligence activities and combat engineer efforts.

This MUM-T strategy not only enables reconnaissance and security over larger areas and increases situational awareness to both air and ground forces, it also reduces kill chain timelines required through positive identification of enemy forces, provides more rapid clearance of fires and target designation, and enables air and ground forces to maneuver out of contact. USAACE continues to work deliberately with other Army Centers of Excellence (Maneuver, Fires, Intelligence, Maneuver Support, etc.) to mature this strategy by further development of MUM-T TTP and incorporation of these TTPs into existing aviation doctrine through deliberate partnerships.

MUM-T training is being integrated from the individual to collective task level. Force on force capabilities are being developed to fully integrate MUM-T training opportunities at combat training centers, home station training, and in simulation. Force-on-target training opportunities are emerging with the advent of the Digital Air Ground Integration Range and Digital Range Training System.

MUM-T can be trained in simulation and is incorporated into manned and unmanned mission simulators, to include the Aviation Combined Arms Tactical Trainer. USAACE is leading an integrated project team directed by Headquarters, Department of the Army to identify MUM-T collective training strategies that will include UAS assigned to National Training Center with TTP development and collection oversight. Finally, MUM-T is being included in the Army’s professional military education (PME) system for leaders. MUM-T topics are integrated into several PME courses to ensure successful air/ground integration and integrated into squad/platoon situational-training exercise training to adequately prepare units for collective training.

Although MUM-T is not a new doctrine, the recent broad acceptance of it has demonstrated significant operational advantages. Army Aviation and its partners have succeeded in establishing the appropriate facilities and associated requirements and capabilities to develop, evaluate, test and integrate the technology required to execute MUM-T operations. Specifically, establishing and standardizing the necessary interoperability profiles and strategically linking the UAS assets at the JSIL with Army rotary wing and joint service assets via the Defense Research and Engineering Network has provided the technical foundation to achieve affordable programs, control costs throughout the product life cycle, and eliminate unproductive processes and bureaucracy by using existing infrastructure to thoroughly explore the operational and programmatic benefits of MUM-T. It is also a quintessential example of the continuing efforts by Army Aviation to embrace the principles of better buying power and enhance our weapon systems’ capability and flexibility. ♦

Colonel Tim Baxter is the Army project manager, UAS, and Colonel Tom von Eschenbach is the Army UAS TRADOC capabilities manager.


Last modified on Wednesday, 30 April 2014 14:37

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  • Issue: 3
  • Volume: 5
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