Advanced Information Architecture

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The US Marine Corps is testing a tightly integrated information network designed to provide warfighters at every level with collaborative, real-time information and imagery. During the “Agile Lion” demonstration, the Corps will test Northrop Grumman’s Advanced Information Architecture (AIA) providing commanders on the ground an access to real-time aerial imagery taken by Litening targeting pods. The digital imagery files will be filed and stored into a dynamic catalog of tactical information including targeting video.

AIA will be integrated into a variety of Marine Corps tactical platforms, including an AV-8B and an F/A-18D aircraft equipped with a Litening pod, a Cobra attack helicopter, a C-130J air refueling tanker, ground vehicles and even individual Marines, which will allow them all to share tactical information in real time. “The tanker will be equipped with an AIA suite enabling it to expand its role of aerial refueling to ‘digital refueling,'” said Dale Burton, sector vice president and chief technology officer for Northrop Grumman’s Integrated Systems sector. “In Northrop Grumman’s Brilliant Constellation concept, digital refueling means delivery and sharing of information and situational awareness products between warfighters, in the cockpit or on the ground, via its real-time network.”

A Command Operations Center (COC) at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma has also been equipped with a ground-based AIA command node to provide data access, chat and e-mail capability so that ground forces can exchange information with the COC without using voice
communications. Marine Corps ground units will use personal-data assistants and laptop computers to access data provided through the AIA network.

“Our goal in Agile Lion is to show the value of tactical, ad-hoc networks that enable both air- and ground-based warfighters to collaborate in real time, especially while on the move,” said Burton, “Today, most of the raw data collected by tactical assets is available only in cockpits and command centers. The demonstration of AIA in Agile Lion will highlight how forces in convoys and dismounted Marines can ‘pull’ or ‘push’ data-imagery, signals, intelligence, chat, e-mail or other information-to and from a network of airborne and ground-based servers, allowing real-time collaboration among users.”