Military Review

Project Convergence: a promising command and control system for the Pentagon


The Pentagon is currently developing the Project Convergence program. Its goal is to create new communications and command and control facilities capable of integrating existing systems into a highly efficient and productive network. The emergence of such a control system is expected to simplify the exchange of data within interspecific groupings and increase the efficiency of their combat work.

Prerequisites for the emergence

At present, all branches of the armed forces and branches of the US Armed Forces are equipped with automated tactical control systems (ACS TZ), which ensure the reception and processing of data with the subsequent issuance of orders. As development progresses, fundamentally new systems are introduced, incl. based on artificial intelligence, dramatically expanding the combat capabilities of troops.

However, there is a serious problem. Different military structures use their own automated control systems, which are often incompatible with each other. This seriously complicates the interaction of different types of troops. For example, the transfer of data from the Target Intelligence Data (TIDAT) control system to the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS) artillery complex must be done manually.

As a result, the interaction of different types of troops becomes more difficult. In addition, various difficulties arise associated with the integration of individual TK ACS into general operational-strategic contours. It is believed that such problems of control systems do not allow to fully realize the potential of modern weapons and equipment.

Project "Convergence"

To get rid of current shortcomings and gain new opportunities, the Convergence project is being developed. Its goal is to create a fundamentally new automated control system of the operational-strategic level, capable of integrating other systems and ensuring their full interaction.

According to the US Army, Convergence pays attention to the training of personnel and the development of weapons and equipment. However, a key component of the program is new communication and control tools based on modern technologies. They will have to take on some of the tasks currently performed by humans, as well as simplify general issues of interaction.

The main goal of Project Convergence is to integrate all military assets in different environments, from rifle squad to satellite reconnaissance. Such a communications and control complex will receive data from all operating reconnaissance and surveillance assets, compose an overall picture and issue it to all system participants in their own format. As a result, no major reworking of existing communication and control facilities is required.

It is proposed to introduce artificial intelligence, which will be able to independently study the situation and issue recommendations - it will be entrusted to choose which means of defeat should be used for one purpose or another. In addition, he will be responsible for data transmission: each headquarters or subunit, working in a common system, will see only what it is supposed to - due to this, the load on personnel, equipment and communication channels will be reduced without loss in the efficiency of the troops.

From the latest reports, it follows that the Pentagon has already developed some of the new tools and is testing them, and not only in laboratory conditions. Components are ready for implementation in motorized infantry units and artillery. Also, the system can already integrate the space reconnaissance echelon and tactical Aviation... It is obvious that in its current form, the experimental "Convergence" is already capable of solving basic problems. In the future, as it develops, new opportunities will appear and other structures of the armed forces will be connected.

Checked in practice

In August and September at the Yuma test site, five weeks of testing of ready-made Project Convergence components were carried out. These activities involved ground forces, air force aircraft and a reconnaissance satellite of the space forces. The possibility of effective joint work using the new ACS was demonstrated.

The solution of the combat training task was divided into three stages. On the first one, the satellite made reconnaissance of a given area. Satellite data was transmitted to the command post 1300 miles from the test site. There was information processing, target search and distribution of combat missions. At the second stage, target data was transmitted as quickly as possible to F-35 aircraft and artillery. During the third stage, during the training battle, the aircraft conducted reconnaissance and transmitted data to a single automated control system, from where target designation was then sent to artillery units, incl. equipped with the latest ERCA long-range howitzers

It is reported that such tests ended with only partial success. Some of the new capabilities have been confirmed in practice, but other technologies need to be improved. In addition, the experimental control system is far from fully meeting all the requirements and plans of the army. However, in the future, the identified shortcomings will be corrected, and the control systems will receive new desired functions.

Plans for the future

The Pentagon plans to continue R&D on Project Convergence in the coming months to improve existing components and create new ones. In addition, the artificial intelligence of this complex must be "taught" to use various types of weapons, incl. while absent from the army. Then new test activities will be needed, according to the results of which the next stages of refinement will be carried out.

Next year, they plan to conduct new tests at the test site with the involvement of different units and various equipment. In particular, it is planned to include a promising PrSM missile system in Convergence. However, his participation in practical events is still in question. The firing range of this system exceeds the size of the largest US land ranges, and launches over the ocean do not fully simulate real combat work. Thus, new organizational issues will have to be addressed before conducting future exercises.

The timing of the completion of the work and the appearance of the final version of the Project Convergence ACS has not yet been announced. Within the framework of this program, it is necessary to develop a lot of new systems and samples, incl. fundamentally new. It also requires numerous checks and tests in conditions as close to real ones as possible. All this can take several years - even if there are no serious technical or organizational difficulties.

Perspective unity

The US Army already has advanced automated command and control capabilities across all branches of the armed forces. At the same time, the need for their further development is obvious, both independent and aimed at integration. This is what the Pentagon and defense industry organizations are doing now as part of the Convergence project.

The ideas proposed for implementation look very interesting, and their bringing to exploitation can seriously change the appearance and capabilities of the armed forces. However, the need to combine different automated control systems with serious differences, as well as the proposal to use artificial intelligence, significantly complicates the development of the program as a whole.

It can be expected that the assigned tasks will be solved, and the army will receive fundamentally new means of command and control. However, it is not known how long it will take to complete the project, what its final cost will be, and how the real complex will differ from the current plans and wishes.
Photos used:
U.S. Army
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  1. Doccor18
    Doccor18 15 October 2020 07: 24
    Its goal is to create a fundamentally new automated control system of the operational-strategic level, capable of integrating other systems and ensuring their full interaction.

    Nikolai Vasilievich Ogarkov is a Soviet marshal who was the first to see so clearly the prospects for tactical and strategic ACS. He looked so far, foresaw ...
    It was 30 years ago. But to this day, all the units of the Russian army are not connected by a single network for receiving and transmitting information and control ...
    1. Vita vko
      Vita vko 15 October 2020 09: 10
      Quote: Doccor18
      But to this day, all units of the Russian army are not connected by a single network for receiving and transmitting information and control.

      "Single network" is too straightforward concept for heterogeneous forces and means with a rigid hierarchy and different requirements for data transmission channels. Most likely we are talking about digitalization and standardization of protocols.
      1. Firelake
        Firelake 15 October 2020 09: 49
        Well, this also means transferring data quickly and in the same format. Well, Americans can go into electronics, but unfortunately we have problems with that. And the Soviet backlog is out of work :(
        1. Vita vko
          Vita vko 15 October 2020 10: 19
          Quote: FireLake
          Unfortunately, we have problems with this

          If we compare the level of equipping troops with modern communications and communication equipment, then this problem exists not only in the Russian Federation, but also in all other armies. Depending on the importance of ACS and digital communication in different types and types, the level of equipment is different. In the Strategic Missile Forces, early warning systems, air force, air defense, electronic warfare, naval forces, it is from 100% to 70%, in the ground forces in the region of 10%. Moreover, the situation is similar in all the armies of the leading countries. The commanding staff of the ground forces have to make a difficult choice, purchase a dozen modern machine guns and grenade launchers, or one set of modern means of communication with automated control systems and communications. Naturally, they do not believe in the effectiveness of the latter in comparison with a dozen grenade launchers.
          1. Firelake
            Firelake 15 October 2020 16: 02
            There have always been communication problems in the USSR. How now I do not know.
    2. beeper
      beeper 15 October 2020 22: 17
      hi Also immediately remembered our Soviet Marshal Nikolai Vasilyevich Ogarkov, and how many years have passed since then, water has flown under the bridge ... alas, there is no prophet in his Fatherland!
      As it was (in most cases) in Soviet technology (the old design engineers of national economic machines and radio electronics remember this!) - it is necessary that a foreign project - "analog" and only then - "good" of the party and government for their own Soviet development ?!
      Breakthrough "exceptions" in space and some other (mainly defense) areas of technology, only confirmed this "rule"!
      Wait and catch up is the worst!
  2. Glory1974
    Glory1974 15 October 2020 10: 18
    This work has been going on in the USA for a long time. And many things have been introduced and used by the troops. Previously, there was the IS3 program (intelligence, command, control, communications), then it became I2S4 (computers, a number were added).
    This program is being improved further. It includes artificial intelligence, satellite communication with the passage of information at a speed of 10 Gbit / s, at which the entire territory of the Earth is covered, including the Arctic and Anatarctic, and much more, about which there is not a word in the article.
    Ultimately, on the tablet displaying the combat situation, any commander sees all reconnoitered targets in his area of ​​responsibility, can direct all types of weapons at them, on-line has the opportunity to see the terrain in front of him, including destroyed buildings, bridges, information on which is updated online.
    Well, in general, a lot of things, you need to write a separate article. By the way, new ways of ensuring communication are also being considered, if suddenly the enemy can use electronic warfare. Up to the point that paper maps will be used on an equal footing.
  3. FerrariStradale
    FerrariStradale 15 October 2020 14: 18
    Their ability for 2017 was like this. An area like Kaliningradskaya 15000 km2 from satellites is processed in 6 minutes, AI in the photo find air defense, tanks, artillery. Transfer target designation to all combat arms. Roles are assigned in seconds. AI now makes decisions instead of the general staff. Stars on epaulettes will be received by Field Marshal Computer
    1. OgnennyiKotik
      OgnennyiKotik 15 October 2020 18: 38
      Half a step left to skynet stop