INTEROPERABILITY FOR THE FUTURE
By Lee Randell, Systematic
The need for multinational forces to exchange battle space information has become extremely important in today’s highly complex operations. Asymmetric warfare presents very different threats from those of conventional combat, where opposing powers had similar equipment, resources and tactics – fighting against each other on almost similar terms. Today, the need for effective interoperability to enhance situational awareness has never been so important in achieving mission objectives while also minimising civilian and military casualties, particularly through Friendly Force
Tracking (FFT) technologies.
NATO defines interoperability as, “The ability of systems, units, or forces to provide services to and accept services from other systems, units, or forces, and to use the services so exchanged to enable them to operate effectively together.” On the face of it, this appears to be reasonably straight forward. In reality this isn’t the case. Aside from nations operating disparate C2 systems and technologies, the evolution and adoption of many different data exchange standards intensifies the interoperability conundrum.
The MIP (Multilateral Interoperability Programme) data model is the most widely agreed Command & Control information exchange standard currently available. Ratified by 27 nations and organisations, it is aimed at supporting the entire spectrum of Joint military operations. Of course, data standards evolve and, as MIP Block 2 has advanced to MIP Block 3, it is vital that interoperability is maintained between nations in a potentially mixed environment.
A New Approach
With so many disparate systems and versions of the standards available, something is needed to join them together and allow them to interoperate.
The SitaWare C2 Server from Systematic does exactly that: It is a high-performance, scalable data repository that provides platform independent services, making it ideal for use by systems integrators and developers, as well as by military officials responsible for the C2 architectures of the future.
Being based on Service Orientated Architecture principles, the SitaWare C2 Server makes it easy to integrate many different specialist systems, off-the-shelf products and legacy installations. Using SitaWare C2 Server Web Services, users can develop custom C2 applications specific to their needs and requirements, for instance to build and display a single unified COP. The unified COP can either be viewed in a standard web browser or made available to other applications via an open web services API.
“The SitaWare C2 Server gives us a very high degree of flexibility and the ability to support multiple, disparate standards simultaneously,” explains Hans Jørgen Bohlbro, Systematic Product Manager, “It easily maps data and provides interfaces between systems using, not only, MIP Block 2 and MIP Block 3, but can also exchange data types such as NFFI, MTF, XML and tactical data links.”
The SitaWare C2 Server uses gateways to interface between systems operating with different data standards. This makes it highly flexible and supports the entire mission from planning and execution through to after action review.
It supports unit symbols, tactical graphics, equipment symbols, installation symbols and MOOTW/CIMIC symbols. Users can drill down into the COP contents, report new symbols on the COP and manage layers and sub-layers of information.
During the planning stage, users are able to develop collaborative plans, distribute plans to selected sites, issue orders, manage task organisation and plan/order state changes. Supported plan/order content includes main textual document, task organisation, textual and graphical (overlays) appendices and annexes.
The SitaWare C2 Server also manages the ORBAT and holdings for Equipment, Consumables and Personnel, with the ability to report and obtain actual holdings for each unit.