Pulse news magazine

Volume 28, February 2020

The Beacon: Shining a light on the importance of cross-domain operations

Dr. Jerry Wohletz, Vice President & General Manager, Electronic Combat Solutions

Thomas Edison didn't invent out of boredom.

He invented with the specific, calculated purpose of bringing a product to market. While most people think of light bulbs when they hear Edison's name, his technology research and development also contributed to the phonograph, motion pictures, electric train, and even the first electric car. But he wasn't alone. Searching the world for the brightest minds, he selected likeminded dreamers who would contribute to a new technology right out of the gate. And the results – as we can see from the 1,000-plus resulting patents – were astounding.

Like Edison, BAE Systems is continuously pursuing that same level of ingenuity – and we're finding it everywhere: our brilliant employees, who fuel our innovation engine; and externally, as we continue to build relationships with venture capitalists, accelerators, small businesses, and universities around the globe. Riptide Autonomous Solutions, which you'll read about later in this issue, is a great example of how a small company with the right skills, drive, and passion has become an integral part of our business's future – and a piece of a much larger, enterprise-wide shift toward multi-domain operations.

Our company has been in the low-cost expendables business for decades. We have technology on the ground, underwater, in the air, and even in space. But historically, they have all been operating in silos: separate command centers, isolated networks, individual systems. The future will integrate all of these domains, accelerating decision-making where it counts. Riptide is a part of this – we can put thousands of small unmanned underwater vehicles in the ocean and maintain custody – enabling customers to send unmanned underwater vehicles on undersea missions without risking human life. Other examples are small satellites, and semi-autonomous multi-domain mission planning that allows military operators to leverage battlespace resources across space, air, land, and sea. It's all linked to this bigger push to have cross-domain operations meet the future battlespace. Integrating systems will be vital to out-innovate and stay one step ahead of our adversaries.

Having previously led our FAST Labs™ R&D business and now leading Electronic Combat Solutions, I've seen the need for cross-domain operations grow rapidly. As an example, in ECS, historically we've been focused on next-generation radio frequency electronic warfare to protect our aircraft. Now, we need to transform our thinking to connect space, ground missions, undersea operations, and everything in between, both securely and efficiently. Our ability to defend democracy depends on the speed of our progress in this important area. Realizing we cannot do this alone, like Edison, we must continue our global search for the best and brightest thinkers. Securing a future where cross-domain operations are the norm will be challenging, but I know we're up to the task.

By Dr. Jerry Wohletz, Vice President and General Manager, Electronic Combat Solutions
With Kelly Hussey, Communications, Hudson, New Hampshire