Building a Networked ISR

The Air Force demonstrated a number of new information gathering and targeting procedures at Red Flag 17-1 that will help the service transition to a more networked approach to the battlespace. For the first time, the use of Network Centric Collaborative Targeting (NCCT) was a stated goal of the exercise held at Nellis AFB, Nev., and NCCT operators were integrated into the exercise’s combined air operations center. Controllers also for the first time made use of cooperative geolocation, a machine-to-machine process that employs sensor data from two or more platforms to locate and track targets more quickly. These ISR firsts at Red Flag showed an operational commitment to the Air Force leadership’s message that networks, more than the capabilities of individual systems, will be at the heart of the air battle of the future. At this Red Flag, “crews weren’t mission planning with just their own aircraft in mind, but also where it is in relation to the other aircraft, ”said Lt. Col. Justin Tindal, chief of the futures branch at Air Combat Command, according to a press release.