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Sensor Network Helps Clear 'Fog of War'.

Cooperative-engagement capability brings advantages to joint warfare

The Navy's netted-sensor system known as Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) is a revolutionary technology that helps dissipate the fog of war.

The idea of CEC is simple, but the mechanics are not.

CEC is a weapon-quality, wireless net work that brings clarity to the increasingly cluttered and complex battle-space. The system is a combination of a fast, wireless network and advanced software programs running complex algorithms on specialized computers.

Rather than e-mails traveling over the Internet, the data on the CEC network is simply raw radar data (called "parametric data") that is processed by computers onboard ships and aircraft operating together in a carrier battle group package. This is the fundamental difference between CEC and other tactical data links.

CEC exchanges raw data, all of which is then processed together into a composite picture by each platform, whereas traditional data links exchange only processed data and then attempt to correlate each track. Many benefits stem from this approach, including collective reliability and, by extension, survivability, accuracy, speed of command and a growth path to future applications.

First, the reliability of the total system is much higher than any one platform. By transmitting raw radar data, each unit essentially has "sensors in depth." That is, every CEC-equipped ship can see and shoot what anyone in the battle group sees. Each ship is able to rely not only on its organic radar, but also on those aboard other ships, and even CEC-equipped aircraft.

For instance, instead of two or three radars, a ship in a battle group will have data from many radars--upwards of 20 radars in just one battle group, including data from aircraft which have a birds-eye view of the battlefield. Airborne sensors significantly extend the range at which low targets can be detected and are an integral part of the network. Conceptually, a unit could have no transmitting radars and just silently monitor the network, ready to strike targets, while remaining unseen and much less detectable than units with transmitting radars and communications.

Additionally, for any one contact, platforms will have different aspect views, which is important to circumvent the effects of jamming and to ensure target detection. Contacts often reflect radar energy differently (radar cross section) depending on the relative viewpoint and radar frequency. Consequently, processing data in near real-time from many different radars operating on many frequencies doesn't just produce a better tactical picture, it delivers collective battle space clarity.

The resulting composite picture is highly accurate--accurate enough that weapons can be fired using CEC data alone. Superior accuracy is achieved, because radars measure range very accurately, azimuth (bearing) less so. Fusing raw radar data, particularly range, from several units that view a target from different aspects results in an accuracy orders-of-magnitude greater than any single sensor capability.

Tracking Aircraft

With CEC, precise tracking of tactical jet aircraft in a dogfight or missiles in a jamming environment is achieved, quickly. Ships can shoot down even multiple, sea- skimming supersonic targets that are at or beyond the horizon. In the near term, another platform illuminates (shines a beam of radar energy on) the target in the final stages of the engagement, but an active missile (one with its own active seeker and thus self-guiding) is only limited by its range.

Consequently, even today's most advanced anti-ship cruise missiles will be shot down in a measured, timely response. Another direct result of CEC accuracy is stable identification--once identified, always identified--without manual intervention or procedural work-arounds.

CEC also provides a future growth path for advanced radar integration, joint applications and inter-service interoperability. Raw radar data is useful, regardless of the source. Basic radar data has been successfully passed between a Navy Aegis ship and an Army theater high-altitude air-defense battery. Other systems could be CEC-enabled, such as Patriot missile batteries, long-range air search radars, radar aerostats and early-warning aircraft. This would enhance the ability of the joint force to defend against theater ballistic missiles.

Additionally, CEC enhances the capability to detect stealthy targets, such as sea-skimming cruise missiles. The CEC-enabled composite picture, derived from many radars operating in many frequencies from many aspects, exposes radar-evading targets in plenty of time for a forceful response.

It is important to understand how the United States employs naval forces in peacetime to truly appreciate why CEC is important to the Navy's future.

One half of the Navy's ships are underway on a typical day. More than one-third are forward-deployed overseas, ready to serve in missions ranging from peaceful exchanges and humanitarian assistance to regional conflict and war.

To be ready for war, the Navy prepares in peace by building regional knowledge bases--developing operational awareness of the potential adversary. Sensors--and the information they provide--are the basis for ensuring command of the seas. Further, a shared, accurate picture of the battle helps the Army, Navy, Marine Corp and Air Force all function more effectively together.

Lt. Cmdr. Tom Druggan is a surface warfare officer who recently completed his tour as combat systems officer on USS O'Kane, an Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyer, and will report as executive officer on USS Lassen (DDG 82) for his next tour.
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Title Annotation:Cooperative Engagement Capability
Author:Tom Druggan, Lt. Cmdr.
Publication:National Defense
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2001
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