Two decades after a congressional mandate for jointness,
the services still search for better synergy in the battle area
By OTTO KREISHER, Special Correspondent
The Right Picture
with findings of incompatible equipment, procedures and terminology
that handicap the integration of fires,
produce inaccurately displayed Joint
Fires Areas and “result in increased
risk of fratricide,” according to the
Pentagon’s Joint Fires Integration and
Interoperability Team (JFIIT), based
at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
One industry effort to close that
gap is a project by Raytheon that seeks
to enable widely dispersed, multiple
service elements to develop an identical picture of the battlespace that would foster the integration of many forms of air and missile defenses.
Called Joint Fires, or Jfires, the program is an initiative of Raytheon’s Integrated Defense Systems sector and
is internally funded by Raytheon. Lauree Shampine, a
director in the sector’s missile defense business area, said
the company has “been able to demonstrate” how to
generate and maintain a common network picture as a
foundation for integrated fire control “in a multimis-sion, multiservice environment,” across one or more
combatant commanders’ areas of responsibility.
The Defense Department has nine combatant commands, including one that stretches across the Middle
East, and another across the Pacific and through much
Jfires is an extension of an integration tool Raytheon
has been developing for about seven years. It has been
tested and used operationally by the U.S. Seventh Fleet
in the Pacific since 2003, Shampine said. Called the
Tactical Component Network (TCN), the technology
currently is installed on ships of the amphibious strike
group based in Sasebo, Japan.
TCN “offers a real-time picture of the air and sea
battlespace for operational commanders at sea and
ashore” by integrating radar systems and correlating
data from other shipboard sensors, including electro-optical and infrared cameras and electronic warfare
The goal: military units sharing sensor information and commanders using a single picture of the battlespace.
■ The Joint Forces Command keeps the experimental fires burning.
■ Is “Joint Fires” a key to integrated fire control?
■ Needed: common attributes for data and “translators” for
With the increasing emphasis on joint and combined combat operations and the deployment
of weapons with greater range and lethality,
there is a crucial need for the services to share a common view of the battle area and integrate their different
forms of fire support and defensive weapons.
Integration of fires and shared knowledge among
land, sea and air commanders can increase combat effectiveness and reduce the risks of collateral damage to neutral parties and fratricide on friendly forces. But 20 years
after the Goldwater-Nichols Act ordered the services to
operate more jointly, the military — led primarily by the
Joint Forces Command — and defense contractors are
still working to close the gaps in those capabilities.
The current military vision engendered by the act is of
military units sharing sensor information and commanders with a single integrated picture of the battlespace created by a variety of military sensors providing data in a
standardized format. This would enable, for example, the
shooter of an Army missile defense battery to use information from a Navy F/A-18E/F tactical aircraft or an
Aegis destroyer to target its weapons using data from an
Air Force Airborne Warning and Control System plane.
But that ideal is far from an operational reality. Recent
reports on developmental efforts to integrate weapon fires
and sensor information, including tests that were part of
a Joint Forces Command exercise last April, are replete