Shaping the new battlefield
Information overkill. Too much information in too short a time to be able to process it adequately. A common situation for the crews of military platforms: Numerous systems such as radars, optronics or EW technologies generate tons of data, which must first be captured and properly analysed by the crew – and this in seconds.
The solution: Intelligent sensor fusion that evaluates and processes the incoming continuos flows of data in real-time. With decades of experience as a proven partner to armed forces worldwide, HENSOLDT has identified sensor fusion as a key technology for the future to bring its high-performing sensors to the next level.
A future scenario for sensor fusion
It´s a rainy day. A platoon of four armoured vehicles rolls through urban area. In the command vehicle, the crew keeps an eye on the close-range area around the formation with a 360° all-round view. As the integrated sensor system detects a person on an upper floor, the crew is automatically warned. But the on-board UAV checking the threat, can give the all-clear. It is only a civilian. A few minutes later, a new object appears on the digital situation map on board.
It is a drone, classified as hostile with the help of the digital radar. Immediately, the fire control system offers the crew several combat options with which they can quickly put the enemy carrier out of action. Once this threat has been eliminated, the unit sends out its own reconnaissance drones, which report an enemy missile launcher a few kilometres away. With the help of the fire control system, the crew can quickly disable it and continue their mission.
Nowadays, crews of different platforms – whether it be aircraft, vessels or armoured vehicles – are already supported by a multitude of different sensors, but the crew must first collect, merge and (correctly) evaluate all these streams of information from different sources before they can initiate countermeasures – and do so in a matter of seconds.
This is where HENSOLDT sees enormous potential: the user-oriented consolidation and evaluation of data from sensors such as optronics, radar and electronic warfare technology in a single system. Basic forms of sensor fusion have already been implemented for years, e.g. in the area of airspace surveillance. However, sensor data analysis and fusion at the lower end from diverse heterogeneous sensors is a new approach. The goal: to offer the crew a comprehensive situation picture in real time with the support of artificial intelligence (AI), including automated analysis of the situation.
Because whoever gains an information advantage through the intelligent fusion of different data sources also has the decision-making superiority. And those who make faster and more targeted decisions, i.e. give orders and initiate actions, also have significantly better chances of fulfilling their mission. Especially as this information may be shared across platforms.
With its wide range of sensors and huge amounts of available data due to its long-standing experience, HENSOLDT has the perfect prerequisites to face this challenge as all parts of the company´s portfolio can be combined in an integrated sensor suite:
In cooperation with Italian vehicle manufacturer Iveco Defence Vehicles (IDV), HENSOLDT has developed a Military Utility Vehicle (MUV) concept demonstrator to showcase a modular sensor fusion platform that can be used in the civilian and military sectors for surveillance and reconnaissance as well as for self-protection and convoy protection.
Based on an all-terrain 7-ton-chassis, the sensor suite by HENSOLDT consists of the products SETAS, MUSS, a radio direction finder and S3 MIMO radars. All these components are networked by the Central Information Processing Unit (CIPU), which forms the backbone for fusing all the sensors.
This system architecture enables automatic information processing that supports the operators in decision-making and ensures operational readiness under all conditions. With this sensor data network, HENSOLDT enables complete situational awareness. Thanks to its modular structure architecture, the suite can be configured according to individual customer demands.
The capabilities offered by HENSOLDT are not just a shopping list of hardware. Threaded across them all is the sensor fusion, which ultimately is the discriminator and will disrupt the way future military operations are carried out. HENSOLDT´s plan is to introduce a sustainable way to have all of these sensors integrated to a suite, to provide standardised interfaces and reduce life-cycle costs. Sensor data fusion happens not at one central device or a cloud but in a resilient fog of distributed power that still functions if one node is severed.
“This is the future: fully-networked, multi-spectral smart sensing across the battlefield.”
Head of Sensing Solutions
And critically, this is not merely for a consolidated view of the battlefield, increases situational awareness, and swift decision-making. It reduces the crews workload, assists in training and system use and thereby ultimately enables decision-centric operation.
Much more a game changer than a nice to have.