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High operations tempo contributing to Lockheed spectrum convergence growth

WASHINGTON — About three years ago, in response to the growing convergence of cyberspace and electromagnetic spectrum operations within the military, Lockheed Martin underwent an internal reorganization to adjust to the new demands.

The result was a new spectrum convergence business, which set out to break down the barriers between similar technologies linking intelligence, electronic warfare and cyber systems together.

Vice president of spectrum convergence, Deon Viergutz addressed how the business has been performing and some recent progress the company has made since its inception.

The following transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

How has the spectrum convergence business grown over the last year or so?

Spectrum convergence is continuing to grow and expand to support customers in the electromagnetic battlespace. We see that outlook continuing with significant cyber electronic warfare (CEW) market growth because of our customer’s high ops tempo and the high mission demand for our products and capabilities to support joint, all-domain missions.

Recent awards for Advanced Off-Board Electronic Warfare (AOEW) low-rate initial production and Multi-Functional Electronic Warfare Air Large (MFEW-AL) present new growth opportunities. Concurrently, we have continued to sustain and celebrate significant contract accomplishments in maritime EW with the Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP) 100th delivery and continued deliveries of the Submarine BLQ 10 system and award of the various airborne electronic warfare contracts including CRH, B2, MH 60R. We also deliver significant products and capabilities in the classified domain

How has the covid pandemic affected business?

There have been significant challenges during the pandemic and we, as with many companies, have had to adjust our workplace to ensure the safety of our employees.

This team has responded to these challenges remarkably. We were able to innovate our way through this pandemic, learning new ways to operate and increase our efficiency and effectiveness for engaging with our customers, employees and supply chain. Every element of our business has transformed to the new Normal.

There has been no slowdown in work, while meeting our customer commitments and enabling the warfighter with exceptional CEW unmatched capabilities on the battlefield.

What new or developing internal research efforts are underway?

We are constantly investing in advanced state-of-the-art technologies to leverage our 50-year heritage of CEW expertise to better address near-peer threats in the electromagnetic spectrum. These investments range from advanced miniaturized RF electronics, 3-D additive manufacturing RF antennas, Modular Open Systems Architecture (MOSA) based systems, to artificial intelligence and machine learning.

We have embraced an agile delivery model that has enabled us to innovate at the speed of necessity and move much faster as a company to meet the demands of our customers.

How do you see cyber and electromagnetic spectrum operations continuing and progressing to converge on the battlefield?

Over the last three decades, our near-peer adversaries have learned from the U.S. how to exploit the electromagnetic spectrum and made significant strides in closing the technology gap. Cyber and electronic warfare capabilities will continue to be critical tools for U.S. and its allies’ commanders to ensure freedom of maneuver in the battlefield against evolving threats.

We believe CEW operations will be proliferated across the DoD and joint forces, becoming integrated into their Concept of Operations for the future fight. The electromagnetic spectrum is a physical battlespace for our warfighters, and it is increasingly paramount that we understand it and bolster our ability to operate, own, dominate, and defend against adversaries.

As part of our 21st Century Warfare vision, we’re leveraging emerging technologies to continue to grow in the all-domain environment, everything from electromagnetic spectrum defensive tools, battlespace awareness, command and control across spectrum, to long-range effectors and sensors.

As we look ahead, there will be sustained requirements for systems to be able to conduct multiple missions while delivering a variety of effects in partnership with our allies.

Where are you in terms of MFEW Air Large?

We are excited about the program. MFEW-AL is not only the Army’s longest-range effector but also the first Army program of record to conform to the DoD C5ISR/EW Modular Open Suite of Standards (CMOSS) and Sensor Open System Architecture (SOSA) standards. Earlier this year, MFEW-AL performed extremely well during the US Army’s Experimental Demonstration Gateway Exercise (EDGE) 21 events, important in validating performance and capability.

Currently, we are continuing to progress with the RDT&E phase of the program. Continued RDT&E funding was in the President’s Budget Request for FY 22. We look forward to receiving that funding to continue our demonstrations validating the long-range sensing, Electronic Warfare Support (ES) & Electronic Attack (EA) capabilities of this one-of-a-kind capability. Specifically, we are working towards two major capstone events in the first half of next year. These events will validate the performance of the MFEW-AL phase two systems against operational requirements.

Near term, the team is preparing to support flight experiments this fall during the upcoming Project Convergence 21 and Position, Navigation, and Timing Assessment Exercise (PNTAX) events. Our objective for each is to show how the MFEW-AL systems can support critical U.S. Army missions in operational, tactical environments.

What are some of the major trends and themes you’ve noticed within the last two years as it applies to cyberspace and electromagnetic spectrum convergence?

There have been several developments and trends in the electromagnetic spectrum domain over recent years, including technology advancement enabling size, weight and power – cooling (SWAP-C) reduction as well as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), market shifts and growing demand for CEW capabilities to support joint, all-domain warfighting.

There is the continual need to reduce the SWAP-C of RF electronics and the desire to enable as much capability as possible in a smaller footprint. Technology is now available to support those SWAP-C reductions and deliver increased performance at a lower cost.

Another major trend would be the increased use of AI/ML capabilities to enable “Cognitive Electronics Warfare” where systems can process vast amounts of data to assist operators in increasingly complex and congested electromagnetic battlefields.

Lastly, there is the concept of an Open Systems Architecture—ensuring we are building systems that are avoiding vendor lock and enabling fewer and fewer proprietary systems. This is an area where Spectrum Convergence is leading the way with systems like MFEW, AOEW, BLQ-10 and SEWIP being compliant with SOSA and CMOSS open system standards. This is key for enabling fast CEW technique development and deployment; interoperability of hardware and software across airborne and ground platforms; prompt insertion of new hardware technology; and significant reduction of total ownership costs. Ultimately this results in systems able to rapidly adapt to a continuously evolving threat that optimizes support for warfighters.

Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.

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