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Empire Challenge 07
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What is Empire Challenge 2007 (EC07)?               EC07 Initial Results

Extended Awareness (EA), under the Joint Operational Test Bed System (JOTBS) integrates operations, information and technical capabilities around unmanned systems as part of the Joint Functional Concept for Battlespace Awareness. EA II and EA III further the work of previous Forward Look experiments.

Empire Challenge - JOTBS

Joint Operational Test Bed System (JOTBS) Extended Awareness 1 (EA 1)experimented with the utility of dissimilar unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capabilities supporting ground forces in urban warfare, EA-1 leveraged a U.S. Marine Corps 26 Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Training in Urban Environment Exercise (TRUEX) in the New Orleans, LA area 3-16 December 2004. Primary UAV support provided was for named areas of interest (NAI) targets. EA-1 was a technical integration and UAV live-fly effort to incorporate ground sensors into the advanced sensor and situational awareness network established during the Forward Look experiment series, and demonstrate these capabilities to the warfighter. UAV situational awareness tools and communications architectures proven during Forward Look experiment series including the cursor-on-target (CoT) situational display were augmented with additional innovative capabilities to enhance UAV systems interoperability. These technologies included:

•  Shotspotter, a ground gunshot acoustic locating and blue force tracking system.
•  Automated machine-to-machine cueing from Shotspotter directly to the electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor of a UAV.
•  Collabcast, an Internet Protocol (IP)-based two-way wideband satellite video and data collaboration capability.
•  CoT Snapshot, an image and video capture, archive, retrieval and low bandwidth distribution network based upon the existing CoT situational display capability

Empire Challenge - PL 107-107, Title II

The Joint Operational Test Bed System (JOTBS) is United States Joint Forces Command’s (USJFCOM’s) response to Public Law 107-107, Title II to “. . . establish a government flight capability . . . to evaluate and ensure joint interoperability of unmanned aerial vehicles.” JOTBS joint Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) interoperability experimentation without competition Service UAV assets and without Service doctrine or policy constraints.

During FORWARD LOOK (FL), USJFCOM evaluated and assessed experiments of multiple dissimilar UAVs and several state-of-the-art technologies for enhancing Situational Awareness Battlespace Awareness (BA). The experiments supported goals and objectives in the overall Department of Defense (DoD) UAV Roadmap, DoD Distributed Common Ground/Surface System (DCGS) Common Operational Picture (COP) way ahead, and JOTBS Strategic Plan.

Specifically, JOTBS used the FL experiments to assess the capability and advantages of multiple dissimilar UAV systems operating in a collaborative environment. Emphasis was placed on finding narrow bandwidth solutions to bring enhanced BA to the tactical level. In addition, the FL intent identification of materiel and nonmateriel enhancements to improve BA for commanders.

Empire Challenge - Forward Look

USJFCOM tasked Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, Combatant Command Interoperability Program Office (SPAWAR CIPO), in coordination with JITC, to conduct operational and technical assessments of live-fly experiments using multiple dissimilar UAV platforms. The primary goal was to assess whether it is advantageous for multiple dissimilar UAV systems to operate in a coordinated managed environment and to identify any materiel and non-materiel enhancements to improve the warfighting value of UAVs’ support to the JTF commander. Areas of specific interest for FORWARD LOOK were:

  • Mission planning coordination
  • Sensor target cueing coordination
  • Support for mobile target engagement
  • Data and sensor product “network” dissemination

JOTBS utilized several communication paths currently used by warfighters for voice and data transmission. These communication paths included SATCOM (voice and data), Global Broadcast System (GBS) imagery transmission, and radio relay (voice and data). Telephone and microwave capabilities were provided for backup pathways.

Empire Challenge - Situational Awareness Tools

The JOTBS SA tools were designed to enable the integration of multiple dissimilar UAVs in a collaborative environment. Additionally, they were expected to provide high-resolution, highly accurate UAV ISR imagery to tactical and operational-level warfighters, as well as exploitation cells.

Empire Challenge - Cursor on Target
The CoT eXtensible Markup Language (XML) schema is a lightweight XML-based data format used to exchange time-sensitive position information. CoT was used to represent Precise Position Location Indicator (PPLI), Sensor Point of Interest (SPOI), tasking, and targeting data in a common XML format.

Empire Challenge - Reduced Frame Rate Video Distribution
The RFVD system, a bandwidth reduction initiative, to transmit UAV reduced frame video and metadata to prospective users via narrowband UHF SATCOM. RFVD is an experimental software capability that reduces UAV platform motion imagery to a lower data rate that can be transmitted through various data links such as narrowband UHF SATCOM/Line of Sight (LOS) channel, microwave link, and Ethernet. This allowed other SA tools such as CoT to share the same channel, resulting in a reduction of tactical radios and channels.

Empire Challenge - Video Imagery Capability Enhancement (VICE)
The purpose of the USAF Command and Control Battlelab (C2B) VICE initiative was to conduct a proof-of-concept demonstration of motion imagery enhancements to support real-time C2 decisions and execution. VICE is applicable for employment with current UAV motion imagery user weapons systems. VICE is capable of supporting real-time video exploitation wherever a video/data feed is available. VICE is external to and independent of the motion imagery platforms.

To learn more about Empire Challenge, visit the official United States Joint Forces Command Website (JFCOM).


Click here for information on Empire Challenge 08.
Click here for information on
Empire Challenge 07.
Click here for information on Empire Challenge 07 Initial Results.
Click here for information on Empire Challenge 06.

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