Dr. Robert L. Hess was the Navy ‘s principal representative on the joint Secretary of Defense and Director of Central Intelligence Committee to identify operational requirements for satellites and other surveillance. He served as a naval officer and civilian in numerous positions related to the development of Over-the-Horizon Targeting.
Rear Admiral Holland is a frequent contributor to the Submarine Review. A Life Member of the Submarine league and the Naval Historical Foundation, he is presently Vice President of the NHF.
The participants in and audience members at the annual History Symposium held 24 April at the National War College added new information and included a number of observations about Over-The-Horizon Targeting that clarified and expanded an the article on this subject published in the Winter 2012 SUBMARINE REVIEW. This essay reflects that discussion.
In the early 1970s the Navy explored how to use intelligence provided by national satellites and other third-party sources in an experiment under the auspices of the Reconnaissance, Electronic Warfare, Special Projects and Naval Intelligence Systems Support Office (REWSON) of the then Naval Material Command. The initial demonstration to deliver information from national satellites and other systems to an aircraft carrier in Project OUTLAW HA WK, conducted in 1972, required special communications and compartment ed security clearances for every person involved. The project worked, but difficulties dimmed the results. These difficulties were both systemic and procedural; e.g. long sensor processing times, incompatible communications’ interfaces, non-compatible automated data formats, security restrictions, etc… Some messages did not arrive on board due to communications interruptions and interface failures, much was stranded in the Special Intelligence compartment (behind the green door) never reaching operational personnel, and because the information was received in unfamiliar formats, correlating the received intelligence with the task force’s organic sensors was hard. The resulting information latency, the delay between sensing and delivery to the user, was so long that the data was useless except for post-exercise analysis.
Though the results of the exercise seemed disappointing, Vice Admiral Philip A. Beshany, USN, then Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Submarines (OP-02), pressed on to develop the potential demonstrated by this exercise. From his direction, OUTLAW SHARK was born. A team starting in Lockheed, subsequently to become the Tiburon Corporation, were the prime developers. Their design, as discussed in the previous essay, was to automatically filter and display contact reports from remote sensors (satellites, HF/OF networks, maritime patrol aircraft, and SOSUS), sorting and assembling this locating data into target tracks.
About the same time, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) established a Navy-directed program to develop an ocean surveillance satellite system. Highly covert, this program was managed by the Special Project Office (SPO) of the Naval Electronics Systems Command (NA VELEX). The surveillance satellites developed in this program were fielded during the 1970s and early 1980s and grew into an important source of wide-area surveillance for tactical users of all services. Information products of this system were disseminated not only to Navy and national intelligence fusion centers ashore, but also to deployed Navy commanders, ships, and submarines. The details of the system are still classified.
Recognition that surveillance satellites could help solve the over the horizon targeting (OTH-T) problem for the Tomahawk Anti-ship Missile (TASM) evidently was universal but was resisted by various Navy factions for programmatic reasons. If a space based system to target the TASM was identified as a formal requirement, the entire cost of such a system might be assigned to the Navy, jeopardizing other acquisition. The naval aviation community feared data from such a system would argue against the justification for surveillance and maritime patrol aircraft, both land and carrier based. And finally, platform sponsors (surface and submarine) worried that the cost of a major command and control complex needed to target the weapons would be charged to these platform sponsors.
Further impetus for the space program came in 1976 when Congress gave the Navy one-year to present a plan for developing the solution for targeting T ASM or risk losing all funding for that program. Such a plan was presented the next year that included using multiple sources of information, developing correlation techniques like those later tested in OUTLAW SHARK and developing a space based radar. To execute the plan, the Over the Horizon Detection, Classification and Targeting (OTH DC&T) Project Office was established under the Command and Control Division (PME l 08) of the Naval Electronics System Command.
Coincidentally a joint directive from the Secretary of Defense and the Director of Central Intelligence ordered all services and agencies to identify future requirements for space based systems other than imaging. This effort gave birth to the Tactical Exploitation of National Capabilities (TENCAP) where variously managed and sponsored programs and systems were to bring intelligence information from national sensors to operational users. The operational tasks identified by the Navy in this study included ocean surveillance of ships, submarines and aircraft, anti-ship targeting, aircraft early warning, and targeting of mobile land based weapons.
Support was not universal within the Navy. Many were concerned that becoming dependent on national systems during peace might leave naval forces without the support on which they had learned to rely and on which they had trained because of the high probability that such national sensors would likely be diverted to other purposes during crises. To alleviate this concern, the Navy insisted that any national surveillance system to be used for fleet tactical support would have to be designed in such a way that it would provide coverage continuously everywhere in the world the Navy operated without any need to task the system for specific information or geographic coverage. Additionally, the Navy wanted any future system to deliver its contact reports at security levels and in formats that not only could be used directly by tactical operators but eventually could be automatically processed by existing or programmed Navy and joint tactical data systems.
The champions of these requirements were Vice Admiral Edward Waller, then Director for Anti-Submarine Warfare in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OP 095), and David Mann, then Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Engineering and Systems. Providing off-board sensor data directly to operators without the intervention of an intelligence organization was a radical departure from the methodology used through- out the intelligence community. Intelligence officers did not easily accept wide distribution of raw data from highly classified sources. The sharing of sensitive information with personnel not all of whom held compartment ed clearances was seen as very poor security practice. However, according to Admiral Walter Locke, ” .. . putting this in the hands of the tactical community vice the intelligence community was the most important decision in making an effective system.” Hiding the source of the data was pioneered in the OUTLAW SHARK exercises by adapting all reporting to the format of the Navy Tactical Data System with no identifying source labels. All subsequent development of the exploitation of national surveillance assets for tactical support was based on this design.
A stand-alone transportable workstation was created and tested in USS JOSEPHUS DANIELS (CG-27) in 1977. After successful trials, stand alone OUTLAW SHARK terminals (USQ- 81 (V)) together with supporting communications equipment were produced and selectively deployed to participating ships, submarines, surveillance aircraft and the shore-based Ocean Surveillance Information System (OSIS) nodes. Tests and operational exercises were then conducted to test concepts, refine tracking algorithms and identify problems. Those OUTLAW SHARK exercises proved that fleet operators, when aided by the automated filtering and track correlation afforded by OUTLAW SHARK, were not inundated by the data from satellites and other remote sources, and that they could assemble the contact reports into tracks useful for tactical applications. However, the exercises in the 1970s and early 1980s showed that then-existing systems were not adequate for over-the-horizon targeting at sea. The sensor sources did not detect and report all the background contacts in the vicinity of the target that might unintentionally decoy the missile. The communications connectivity did not deliver fast enough delivery for high-confidence targeting, typically taking about 20 minutes or more. The contact reports were not updated more than once or at most twice per hour, not often enough to pen nit unambiguous tracking either of the target or of other contacts in the target’s vicinity.
Yet for the first time the OUTLAW SHARK equipment gave ship and submarine operators a means to use sensor data from non-organic wide-area sensors. When combined with local information from organic sensors, these contact reports yielded valuable information for situational awareness, anti-air warfare, electronic warfare, and other tactical applications. Like many pieces of successful experimental equipment, once installed individual unit commanders worked hard to prevent their removal. However cross-decking to ships and submarines about to deploy became common in spite of commanders’ of initial installations efforts to keep them for their own operational use.
The Naval Electronics Systems Command (NA VELEX) and the Project Manager increased procurement of the OUTLAW SHARK terminals but conflicts with the then developmental programs for Task Force Command and Control Center (TFCC), the Tomahawk Weapons Control System (TWCS), and the Combat Control System (CCS) that were to incorporate the track- correlation function from OUTLAW SHARK, led to the halt of further acquisition of stand-alone consoles in 1980.
The OUTLAW SHARK terminals that existed remained in the fleet through the 1980s. To help fill the gap left by the end of OUTLAW SHARK procurement, the Navy Special Project Office and the NRO designed and procured a number of similar equipment to supplement the OUTLAW SHARK terminals with some also capable of performing the track-correlation function for over-the- horizon targeting. These Navy/NRO terminals included the Prototype Ocean Surveillance Terminal (POST), the Control and Alert Reporting Terminal (CART), Standard Tactical Receive Equipment Display (STRED), and GALE-Lite. Hundreds of these Navy/NRO terminals were procured and deployed in the fleet through the 1980s. Most deplorable submarines and surface warships had one or more of these Navarro terminals installed.
By early in the l 980’s the OSIS had added the track correlation capability for processing all-source information. Similar capabilities were extended to flagships when the Prototype Ocean Surveillance Terminal (POST) deployed on USS ENTERPRISE in 1983. By 1986 POST was on all flagships. During this same period the Joint Operational Tactical Terminals, (JOTS, the Jerry 0 Tittle System) was developed using a commercial base and software application. By 1987 COMRADESHIP T V ADM Duke Hernandez had installed JOTS on USS FORREST AL with the capability of using all source inputs.
OUTLAW SHARK had proven the concept and operational capability of over-the-horizon targeting. But by halting the stand- alone equipment in favor of developing new command and control systems and incorporating their technology into indigenous fire control systems, general implementation of the sensor-to shooter concept had to await improving the computing power in those individual systems on board the ships and submarines so they could handle the track-correlation function. As improved computers were developed and installed, the OUTLAW SHARK tracking algorithms were incorporated into the command suites and the fire control systems on board ships (TFCC and TWCS), submarines (CCS), and the Fleet Ocean Surveillance informational Centers/Facilities (FOSIC/FOSIF) and later in the AEGIS Tactical Data System.
Meanwhile a fleet OTH-T working group with representatives from the Numbered Fleets and other commands continued to wrestle the challenge of targeting the TOMAHAWK and HARPOON anti-ship missiles. At the same time, the Navy’s Special Project Office and the NRO were developing a significantly improved satellite ocean surveillance system specifically to address the OTH targeting requirements. This included detecting, locating, and continually reporting all surface contacts, whether friendly, hostile, neutral or unknown, and transmitting this information directly to all Navy and other tactical users. Accomplishing this required two new equipment/systems: a tactical broadcast link and a device that would Conn the interface between the users’ radio receiver and their display equipment.
This device, the Tactical Receive Equipment (TRE), was developed and built by the Naval Ocean Systems Center (NOSC), San Diego. The first hundred or so TREs deployed consisted of Engineering Development Models (EDMs) procured by the Navy Special Project Office from NOSC. Funding was programmed for TRE installations in more than 300 Navy ships, submarines, aircraft but ten years was required between the time these equipment were envisioned and when the equipment was fully deployed. Inexpensive manufacture of early equipment by NOSC led to erroneous conclusions about the ease of construction. Shifting to a notional acquisition contract with a civilian vendor delayed production and increased prices as the contractor shifted from the NOSC design to a new proprietary model. This shift Jed to problems with maneuverability and as the delay reflected in longer lead times and late deployment, competition for funding from other command and control devices limited the money available for procurement, further delaying distribution.
The communications system created to support the transmission of data from the overhead sensors was a UHF broadcast, the next stage of the Tactical Data Information Exchange (TADIXS) employing a fondant similar to those previously tested in the OUTLAW SHARK exercises. As the Initial Operating Capability (IOC) of the of the advanced satellite system approached in the mid-1980s, a series of exercises was held in each of the Numbered Fleets. The participating surface combatants, submarines, shore- based aircraft and PSIS nodes participating in these exercises were provided with an (EDM) TRE. A pseudo T ADIXS-B Broadcast carried on narrow band channels of the Fleet Satellite Communications Satellites (FL SITCOM) was provided in each theater. The results impressed the participating commanders who suggested that instead of dismantling the simulated T ADIXS- B broadcast that had been set up to support the Pacific exercise, a permanent replacement be implemented.
The Navy TENCAP Office, the Navy Special Project Office, and the Naval Security Group dedicated a vacant side band of one of the UHF channels of FL TSA TCOM for the broadcast of contact reports from national surveillance systems. The architecture was quickly put in place, and the TRE and Related Applications (TRAP) Broadcast was born. Within a few weeks the TRAP Broadcast was operational supporting TR-equipped fleet users in all theaters worldwide. The TRAP Broadcast was extended to Army, Marine Corps and Air Force using TEE-derived terminals for their respective service applications. Additional satellite surveillance systems soon made arrangements for some information to be broadcast on TRAP to tactical users and information from some non-satellite surveillance systems was also added.
The next year, at the fielding of the improved satellite surveil- lance system, direct broadcast became operational using the TADIXS-B format. The same radio terminals and TREs received this broadcast as had been used for the earlier TRAP and the contact reports were compatible with those on that broadcast. The IOC of the improved system marked the ultimate sensor-to-shooter capability for support of over-the- horizon targeting at sea. Directly reported contacts now included all surface contacts; friendly (blue), hostile (red), neutral (white) and unknown (gray). The time delay between contact and delivery to the shooter was now reduced to seconds, essentially real time. Contact reports were updated often enough to support high-confidence surface tracks. This was a time of great activity by the fleet in exploiting this capability. For example, in 1987 the fleet developed a Blue Force Locator using TRAP/TRE contact reports exclusively.
By the time the full complement of these equipment were procured and deployed the Soviets had significantly reduced out of area surface warship deployments and most Tomahawk missiles had been converted to land attack weapons (TLAMs ). However the march to tactical exploitation of national sensors, wide area surveillance, correlated positions, and tracking of contacts of interest was not interrupted. The era of the common operational picture was in full swing allowing Admiral Bill Owens to predict that everything on the surface of the earth would eventually be able to be seen, identified and targeted.