US soldiers

The US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is seeking development of software decision aids to assist airborne battle managers and pilots in the management of air-to-air and air-to-ground combat missions.

The agency has launched the distributed battle management (DBM) programme to develop control algorithms and to demonstrate robust decision-aid software, which will help US military personnel maintain situation awareness, recommend tasks for platforms and systems, and generate detailed execution plans.

DARPA programme manager Craig Lawrence said the agency seeks innovative algorithms from the planning and control theory communities that go beyond existing algorithms, many of which assume assured communications in the tactical environment.

"Advanced human-machine interaction technologies for cockpits and battle manager stations are also an area where we’re looking for novel approaches, to enable greater comprehension and quick decision-making in an increasingly contested and complex battlespace," Lawrence said.

The programme includes two phases, of which phase one will focus on technology development, including planning, control and situation understanding algorithms, and design of appropriate human-machine interfaces and system engineering.

Phase two will see the team build an integrated DBM capability to manage air-to-air and air-to-ground combat in a contested environment and also demonstrate the capability in large-scale simulation and live fly events.

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DARPA previously issued a broad agency announcement solicitation for phase one and will hold a proposers’ day at the DARPA Conference Centre in Arlington, Virginia, US, on 28 February.

The automated decision aids have become vital, due to the complexity of coordinating innovative systems of systems, and the expectations for growth in the sophistication of adversary capabilities.

The existing battle management systems often lack the benefit of automated aids to help personnel comprehend and adapt to dynamic situations.

Image: The automated decision aids help operators manage the scale and complexity of operations in near-peer contested environments. Photo: courtesy of DARPA.

Defence Technology