In 2017, APL staff members deployed on U.S. Navy Commander, Task Force 70 (CTF-70) patrols aboard the carrier USS Ronald Reagan—an assignment that allowed our engineers to experience the fleet’s challenges and operational workflows, and gather important data to feed future analyses and technology demonstrations in operationally relevant environments. In the first tour—focused on the electromagnetic posture of the battle group—APL staff members quickly developed and deployed custom equipment to provide unique data-collection capabilities that led to improved fleet tactics, techniques, and procedures.
Next Generation Jammer
Strongly leveraging APL’s technical expertise, the Navy’s Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) Mid-Band (Increment 1) program entered the engineering and manufacturing development phase. We have been part of the NGJ team since initial concept development in 2001—playing a key role in the evolution of this initiative to equip warfighters of all services with state-of-the-art technology to address emerging electronic warfare gaps.
Working to ensure that ground forces can rapidly and accurately provide GPS locations of battlefield targets, APL performed design analyses and developed procedures that resulted in the successful testing of the Joint Effects Targeting System (JETS) and improvements to the system’s precision geolocation capability. JETS, now set for initial operation in 2018, will be the first handheld precision-targeting system that includes all-weather geolocation using a miniature inertial navigation system (INS) as well as the ability to use a night or day celestial compass—for which APL conducted design trades and developed specifications. We worked on an even smaller microelectromechanical systems-based INS for the Office of Naval Research and the U.S. Marine Corps, devising ways for seamless integration into a deployed Marine targeting system. We also led an effort to measure data suitable to validate error estimates provided by a targeting system integrated onto the Army’s M1200 Armored Knight vehicle.
Modeling Warfighter Decision-Making
Working with technical consultants and the Navy fighter aircraft community, we created a pilot-behavior model for air-to-air combat. Combined with new tactics and employment modes in BRAWLER—an accepted engagement-level modeling and simulation environment for air-to-air combat—the model allows analysts and decision-makers to study the impact of human performance on air-to-air engagements and overall mission effectiveness. Specifically, we can inject unusual responses into simulations that previously had reflected only “by the book” execution. The model, and its application to engagement-level simulation, marks the importance of operators as the critical element in system designs.