Center for Strategic Decision Research


Network-Centric Transformation and Transatlantic Industrial Cooperation

Mr. Thomas E. Vice
Vice President - Business Development,
Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems

Thank you for the invitation to comment on industry’s contributions to the development of transatlantic network-centric operations. I will focus my remarks on network-centric transformation and transatlantic industrial cooperation.

Network-centric warfare refers to waging war with the capability to see, decide, and quickly communicate to all land, sea, and air units during battle. Network-centric warfare, or network-enabled capability or network-centric operations, as some of you refer to it, enables an entire military force to perform more effectively than the simple sum of its individual parts.  

Operations carried out with information superiority increase the power of networking sensors, decision makers, and shooters to achieve shared awareness, higher command speed, faster operations, greater lethality, increased survivability, and a degree of self-synchronization. These capabilities are critical for meeting the diverse challenges of the future across the entire spectrum of conflict. 


Recent combat experience provides a host of real-world examples of the power of network-enabled operations. The example I like best is that of U.S.A.F. Staff Sergeant Michael Shropshire, an Air Force Enlisted Terminal Attack Controller who in 2003 fought his way through northern Iraq with the troops of the 7th Cavalry during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The 7th Cavalry was the unit that got massacred at Little Big Horn under General George Custer over a century ago. 

Outside Najaf, Shropshire’s unit became engulfed in a ferocious sandstorm. Tasked with securing a strategic bridge, the unit was isolated and surrounded on all sides by heavy Iraqi forces. Shropshire’s satellite radio became the primary form of communication for the endangered troops since the ground-force FM radios suffered from limited range. 

Using the space-based link to the network, Shropshire was alerted by an Air Force JSTARS surveillance aircraft—one of just a handful of assets in the world that can peer through sandstorm conditions—that 10 T-72 tanks were about to overrun his unit. After receiving this information, Sergeant Shropshire left his armored personnel carrier and coolly directed a B-1 bomber to drop 12 GPS-guided JDAMs directly on the enemy tanks. He also quickly coordinated with inbound fighters to destroy an armored formation attacking from the other direction. Altogether, Sergeant Shropshire orchestrated the destruction of over 60 tanks and armored vehicles and hundreds of trucks. 

Because of network-centric capabilities, this two-legged knowledge-enabled war fighter was able to gather a worldwide network of sensors, shooters, and space systems in support of a single, isolated cavalry troop—through sand and rain and directly on target. A lot of troopers in the 7th Cavalry owe their lives to Sergeant Shropshire, who helped to prevent another Little Big Horn for the fabled regiment and came home with a Silver Star. 

Shropshire was a network-enabled fighter. But just a decade ago his position would have been much different. How would he have received information?  How current would that information have been?  How would the data have come to him?  The pace of change has accelerated rapidly in recent years. For example, my company currently had a Global Hawk unmanned intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft flying in theater equipped with the Advanced Information Architecture—the low cost of electronic storage allowed us to put a computer on the aircraft that stores huge quantities of information. With this aircraft in the region, the individual soldier can use his Personal Digital Assistant to pull down up-to-date information on his location and the surrounding area within a few minutes. 


As each individual gets more effective at leveraging the network, the overall force becomes more effective. Effectively using the network during war also allows us to become more inventive. For example, I am sure you are all familiar with GPS-aided weapons—when I was an engineer on the B-2 program, we developed the first operational GPS-guided weapon. Basically, this weapon is told before being launched where it is in relation to the target coordinates, so that it can strike fixed targets even in bad weather. These types of weapons were first employed in 1999 against Serbia, and then in much larger numbers in both Afghanistan and Iraq. 

By combining a network of ISR aircraft and strike systems in the Affordable Moving Surface Target Engagement system, or AMSTE, we have radically changed the potential of these weapons. We can now strike multiple mobile targets on sea and land through weather by giving the weapon a moving set of coordinates as it flies. By using the power of the network we are able to create a much more dynamic and flexible capability than is available through the individual parts. 


The realm of transatlantic defense-industrial cooperation has not been without a similar revolution in thinking. A prime example of this is the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance program, in which close cooperation between government and industry has borne excellent results. When the North Atlantic Council decided in 2001 to develop a NATO-owned and -operated Alliance Ground Surveillance capability by 2010, industries on both sides of the Atlantic answered the call by proposing a viable industry concept to fulfill the requirement. By April 2002, a transatlantic team, initially composed of EADS, Galileo Avionica, and Northrop Grumman, had developed a Transatlantic Industrial Proposed Solution—commonly known as TIPS—for NATO’s consideration. Then, in short order, Thales of France, Indra of Spain, and General Dynamics of Canada joined the team, forging an industrial powerhouse of companies all focused on answering NATO’s call. Today, more than 75 committed industrial partners from all 26 NATO nations are participating in the program. 

In April of 2005, NATO selected the TIPS industry consortium to provide its Alliance Ground Surveillance system. I am proud to report that on April 28th, the AGS contract was formally signed. All phases of the program, from definition through design and development to production and life-cycle support to training and operations, are multinational. 

The Airbus 321 and the Global Hawk are also proven platforms with well-established, reliable logistics and training programs. Taking advantage of the capabilities of the mid-size jet platform and the high-altitude UAV, our TIPS mixed fleet will provide a responsive, deployable backbone for EU and NATO operations. The common standard—the baseline for interoperability among all national airborne reconnaissance systems, including the U.K.’s ASTOR, the French Horizon, the Italian Creso, and the United States’ Joint Stars—will be NATO’s AGS system. In the future I envision an even broader array of manned and unmanned systems, each capable of using the NATO AGS ground station and communications links to distribute information to NATO and to national headquarters alike. 


Northrop Grumman has been participating with counterpart companies for a number of years in several NATO projects, including CAESAR, to develop standards for interoperability among reconnaissance systems. NATO’s AGS program has broadened this work to ensure that AGS communications links, even as they are developed, will meet the open and common standards. 

Using these standards, the TIPS NATO AGS system will provide situational awareness through a shared common grid that will be available to NATO and national decision makers. Using NATO standard links and procedures, forces from all nations will have full access to all information. Crews will be multinational, with aircraft and ground stations manned by all participating nations. 

TIPS will present the NATO Response Force with a critical core capability by 2010, to meet NATO’s ISR and command and control requirements for the 21st century. This is precisely the sort of success we can expect when governments and industry work closely together on projects of such immense importance to NATO. Over 70 percent of the funding for the TIPS program and over 70 percent of the jobs will accrue to European industry. 

Another prime example of transatlantic industrial and government-to-government cooperation supporting European military transformation is the Euro Hawk program, a joint development program leveraging Northrop Grumman’s experience with the Global Hawk UAV with EADS’ on-board electronics and sensors. The Global Hawk is truly a cutting-edge system that offers an unprecedented combination of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance system capabilities, including great endurance, very high altitude flight, high speed, and a large payload, with lots of electrical power. To give you an idea, a single Global Hawk could have surveilled all the areas affected by the south Asian tsunami in a single mission. 

The successful German ELINT Global Hawk demonstration flights flown in late October 2003 were the first high-altitude, long-endurance UAV flights to take place in German airspace. This was a path-finding demonstration, pointing the way ahead for practical solutions to national, NATO, and EU surveillance requirements. As this program matures, EADS and Northrop Grumman will become 50/50 partners in this effort, with each of us contributing our own core competencies and technologies. On future NATO deployments, the Euro Hawk could provide commanders with unparalleled wide-area search capabilities while also acting as an indispensable communications and data-relay platform for widely dispersed units. 


We at Northrop Grumman think that network-enabled operations are the future and we have positioned our company to support that outlook. It has taken ten years of hard work and vision to put our program together, and we have guided our development and growth largely by network-centric precepts, combining: 

  • Westinghouse’s sensor expertise 
  • Grumman’s Joint STARS ground surveillance aircraft, E-2 airborne early warning aircraft, and EA-6 electronic warfare system 
  • Ryan Aeronautics’ unmanned intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems, such as the Global Hawk 
  • Logicon’s information technology processing 
  • TRW’s space communication and surveillance systems 
  • Litton’s maritime ISR and strike capabilities 

Weaving these individual systems and subsystems together in a seamless web is not easy, but we believe that doing so allows us to provide more value to the customer. A simulation entity called the Cyber-Warfare Integration Network helps us generate and think through ideas as well as do synthetic evaluations of network-centric concepts; this helps us to work out the bugs before molding composites and bending sheet metal. Though it is hard for those of us who have focused on building aircraft, ships, and tanks to remember that the platform is no longer the key element of military capability, what really matters now is how platforms and sensors are networked together. The network is now the system.     

Northrop Grumman has positioned itself to support network-centric operations because we believe network centricity provides our war fighters with superior combat capability—and because it is where we see the market going. For example, one of our most important customers, the United States Air Force, has increased its ISR and communications budget by about 50% over the past four decades, and it anticipates continued growth in the future. In contrast, because of the impact of precision weapons and the growing requirement for precision information to target these weapons, the Air Force’s budget share allocated to combat aircraft—what are known as “shooters”—has declined steadily over that same period (though each shooter is more effective, it relies more heavily on the network to provide information). My planners see no indication that these trends will change anytime soon. 

For the future, therefore, we seek to get better at integration. Integrated systems, the sector I work in, promise interoperability, a faster decision-making process, and more effective forces. Network-centric operations should form the foundation of future transatlantic cooperation and information sharing, and we at Northrop Grumman look forward to working with all of you in these exciting ventures. 





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