“Evil Chat Room” Will Supplant JSTARs Capability, Ensure Multi-Domain Dominance

USAF airmen from Team JSTARS install engine inlet covers after completing a preflight inspection on an E-8C Joint STARS during exercise Valiant Shield 18 at Andersen AFB, Guam, on Sept. 16. Air National Guard photo by SMSgt. Roger Parsons.

Networking multiple sources of ISR data will eventually prove more effective than the Air Force’s JSTARS program, the chief information officer for the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Tuesday.

USAF Lt. Gen. Bradford “B.J.” Shwedo told AFCEA’s Air Force IT Day the service had abandoned JSTARs because it was not robust enough. In an environment contested by an high-end adversary, he noted, “If you look at the range of those surface-to-air missiles, you are never going to get the platform to the target.”

Instead of putting all their ISR eggs in one basket, he said, the new approach—called Advanced Battlefield Management System—involved networking multiple different sources of data. “If one [platform] goes down, you can switch to another,” he said.

It was an approach he said he had seen used by operators in the 25th Air Force, who had communicated with other intelligence assets, such as NSA ground stations, in what he dubbed “evil chat rooms.”

“If you watch your kids play video games, they are playing over their headsets with people all over the world and that’s exactly what these guys would do,” he said, describing real-time networking seeking to identify high-value targets in the global war or terror.

“Bad guys” could hide from one element of ISR, he explained. “If they were worried about drones, they would put a tarp over their heads and think they were OK, … but you can’t hide in all domains.” By utilizing different sources of signals and measurement intelligence, and networking them together, lethal force could be effectively applied. “When they’re interconnected in these evil chat rooms, bad guys start dying at a high rate,” he boasted.

“Once we start building that net forum [to integrate different sources of ISR data in the Advanced Battlefield Management System], we’ll find it’s more lethal as well as more survivable,” he concluded.