AUTOMATED COMBAT INCIDENT REPORTING: AN OVERVIEW
By Stanley Salamon and Robert Burkhart
The Automated Combat Incident Reporting (ACIR) project is an initiative funded by the Joint Aircraft Survivability Program Office (JASPO) to improve the collection and dissemination of data associated with hostile fires against aircraft. The project’s objective is to develop the methods and associated tools required to automatically collect data from Aircraft Survivability Equipment (ASE) and aircraft mission computers, correlate the collected data with the incident, and package them for distribution to a representative database (e.g., the Combat Data Incident Reporting System [CDIRS] database).
The ACIR project will culminate in demonstrations of two technical solutions, differing primarily in the means of data removal from the aircraft. Future phases of the effort may include the ability to off-board the data in-flight to other aircraft and agencies to enhance situational awareness, contribute to a Common Operating Picture, or provide suppressive fires on the threat.
WHY IS ACIR NEEDED?
The collection of combat incident data occurs so that analysts can examine the variables surrounding hostile action against Department of Defense (DoD) aircraft in relationship to the type of mission, altitude, airspeed, phase of flight, and countermeasure response. The resultant analysis can be used to help develop more effective defensive technologies and/or inform tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs). Current methods of collection are greatly dependent on human observation of the incident and often lack necessary details to support a thorough analysis. In some cases, the incident is not discovered until post-flight; in others, there may be no survivors. By automatically collecting and storing data generated by sensors that are optimized to detect threat activity, aircrew response, and the associated countermeasures response, analysts will have a more complete data set with which to apply their trade.
WHAT TO EXPECT?
Phase I of the JASP ACIR project identified stakeholders and examined the policy and regulatory environment that would influence ACIR. Working groups identified the anticipated end users of the data produced by ACIR, as well as tactical users that would benefit from enhanced systems and TTPs. In addition, the Technical Working Group identified system capabilities in terms of access to and generation of the ACIR data; processing and storage capabilities; and the relative effort required to extract, correlate, and translate the ACIR data from Avionics and Electronic Warfare buses related to combat incidents.
The initial focus of the project is to employ the capability on the AN/ALE-47 Countermeasure Dispenser System (CMDS)—which is common to nearly all U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force aircraft, as well as a small number of U.S. Army rotorcraft—and is typically integrated with avionics and ASE systems. The additional benefit of using the CMDS is that the U.S. Government organically develops the associated Operational Flight Program (OFP) and Mission Data File (MDF) software components. This organic development will allow for quicker and less costly modifications of these software components. Furthermore, one of the demonstrations will rely on the organic development of a tablet application. Lower costs, reduced schedules, and fewer concerns about proprietary software are all distinct advantages of the selected approach. Also, although the CMDS is the initial focus, it is expected that the lessons learned from developing ACIR solutions will be useful for similar applications in other Service ASE systems, such as the Army’s Common Missile Warning System.
Phase II, initiated in FY20, includes multiyear efforts to develop the applications and representative database that will be used in the technology demonstrations. The Phase III FY22 effort will demonstrate the ACIR capabilities at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River’s Manned Flight Simulator (MFS), which provides aircraft/system hardware-in-the-loop simulation capabilities.
There will be two demonstrations performed at the MFS. The first effort (illustrated in Figure 1) will rely on the current download capabilities of the CMDS to collect flight test instrumentation (FTI) data. The FTI data will be downloaded, interpreted, and then correlated with the incident of interest. The correlated data will then be paired with the user’s account of the incident and then formatted as required by the target end user (for demonstration purposes, this will be a representative database).
The second demonstration (illustrated in Figure 2) will use a tablet application to collect the ACIR data and provide a means for easier identification of the incidents of interest. Users will then correlate the incidents with their user report, and this information will be formatted for transmission to the representative ACIR database.
WHO IS ON THE TEAM?
Mr. Robert Lyons is leading the effort as the Program Manager from JASPO. The ACIR project was proposed by Mr. William Dooley, formerly of the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Combat Survivability Division. The technical lead for the project is Mr. Robert Burkhart, the Lead Systems Engineer for the ALE-47 CMDS in PMA-272. Mr. Andy Yang from the PMA-272 AN/ALE-47 team has been providing support as project lead.
In addition, CW5 Scott Brusuelas (now retired), who led the Army’s Aviation Survivability Development and Tactics (ASDAT) Team, contributed by providing the Warfighter perspective. CW4 Tyson Martin now leads the ASDAT Team, responsible for collecting forensic evidence from combat incidents. Mr. Jim Rhodes from the Institute for Defense Analyses is the primary survivability analyst and is principally responsible for analyzing the CDIRS data. Finally, subject-matter experts (SMEs) Stan Salamon and Michael McNellis from the Air Combat Effectiveness Consulting Group are assisting the project and technical leads and coordinating the overall effort.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Mr. Stanley Salamon is one of the founding partners of Air Combat Effectiveness Consulting Group LLC (ACE Group), which specializes in program management, engineering, and analytic support to NAVAIR and the DoD community. Mr. Salamon supports NAVAIR’s Combat Survivability Division as a Senior Operational SME with a focus in survivability and lethality. His background includes serving 26 years of active duty as a Marine Corps aviator flying the CH-53D and the AV-8B and working for the past 12 years as a Military Operations Analyst.
Mr. Robert Burkhart is currently the lead systems engineer for the AN/ALE-47 team, as part of NAVAIR’s Advanced Tactical Aircraft Protection Systems (PMA-272). His background includes more than 20 years of supporting the AN/ALE-47 program. As a subject-matter expert, he has served as the AN/ ALE-47 Software Support Activity lead, as a PMA272 technical coordinator role, and, most recently, as the AN/ALE-47 Class Desk.