WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command demonstrated an artificial intelligence planning tool paired with the Virtual Aegis Weapon System to conduct joint-service, multi-domain strike operations.
The demonstration took place during Valiant Shield 2022, a biennial U.S. exercise that rehearses high-end maritime warfare around the Guam area.
The company used its DIAMONDShield battle management system and four virtual Aegis system nodes to feed precision targeting data to Lockheed-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement systems, according to a news release.
In one scenario, DIAMONDShield’s artificial intelligence technology “analyzed operational command-and-control data in real-time during dynamic fires, and provided commanders with decision aids” that recommended which ship, aircraft or ground vehicle should respond to which incoming threats.
Once a human operator chose a course of action, the Virtual Aegis system routed relevant targeting data to the rocket launchers. This machine-to-machine interface saved time, eliminated the possibility of human errors while reading coordinates or instructions over the radio, and translated “digital force orders” into the right wording and doctrine for the Marine Corps shooters despite the orders coming from a commander in a different service who may be trained to use different phrases.
“Real-time feedback from the operators that live this daily is invaluable,” Andrew Cook, Lockheed Martin’s technical lead supporting Valiant Shield, said in a company news release. “You see what works well for them, what features they might struggle with, and what we could do to make their jobs easier and faster. As an industry partner, we are constantly trying to understand the most pressing needs, engineer solutions to them, and incorporate feedback on what we built. The faster we can get that feedback, the faster we can turn around new innovations.”
The company has now participated in five exercises with INDO-PACOM to demonstrate an increasingly capable set of technologies that could enable Joint All-Domain Operations, and lessons learned from Valiant Shield will be fed back into plans for the next demonstration.
“We recognize our customers’ need to rapidly integrate emerging technologies into mission-focused solutions,” Joe Ferrara, Lockheed Martin’s advanced concepts director supporting the exercise, said in the company news release. “Through experiments like Valiant Shield, we are learning collaboratively with our customers to advance Joint All Domain Operations, with the intent of delivering capability faster to the warfighter.”
The U.S. Navy has used the Aegis Weapon System on its surface combatants since 1983 to manage data from shipboard and offboard sensors and cue offensive and defensive missile launches. Improvements in the Aegis system over time have enabled a launch-on-remote capability, where one ship could prompt another ship in a more advantageous position to fire on a target, even if the second ship can’t yet see the target.
As the Aegis combat system capability becomes more portable through the VAWS effort, which packs the cruiser- and destroyer-based combat system into portable cases, Aegis in the future could be used to fire missiles from unmanned surface vessels or from ground-based systems for joint operations.
Megan Eckstein is the naval warfare reporter at Defense News. She has covered military news since 2009, with a focus on U.S. Navy and Marine Corps operations, acquisition programs and budgets. She has reported from four geographic fleets and is happiest when she’s filing stories from a ship. Megan is a University of Maryland alumna.