ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md., -- In today's complex operational environment where America's adversaries are constantly expanding their use of technology, commanders require timely software solutions that ensure the highest levels of unit readiness. The U.S. Army's Communications and Electronics Command's (CECOM) Army Reprogramming Analysis Team (ARAT), is at the center of the Army's Rapid Software Reprogramming Strategy providing critical sustainment upgrades to Army aviation and ground platform Electronic Warfare (EW) system software. This important software counters threats dependent on the electromagnetic spectrum for functions such as target acquisition, tracking and engagement.
In February 2016, the Army released Army Regulation (AR) 525-15, which in part states, "Adversaries are expected to employ both high and low technology systems with constantly changing tactics, techniques and procedures. Electronic Warfare requires software reprogramming to adapt to or forestall these changes." The Army is seeing realization of the EW challenge in all Combatant Command operational areas. To counter these growing threats, and as directed by AR525-15, which provides strategy and implementation for integration and interoperability of cyberspace electromagnetic activities (CEMA), the ARAT team serves as the Army's "rapid reprogramming infrastructure that develops, delivers, and disseminates software for fielded EW systems and other EMS capabilities."
Key to this mission is the concept of "rapid reprogramming," a method of building or adapting EW system software in a time sensitive manner, often based on needs directly from operational units and coordinated through capability managers and program offices. Rapid reprogramming differs from routine software sustainment in that it responds to changes in the operational environment that can immediately and adversely affect EW system performance during ongoing or impending military missions.
Today, ARAT continues its historical mission of building time sensitive mission software products for Aviation Survivability Equipment (ASE) and ground platform counter radio-controlled improvised explosive device (RCIED) systems. Software products for these systems contribute to mission readiness by protecting Soldiers' lives, safeguarding valuable physical assets, and enhance a commander's freedom of maneuver and movement in today's operational environment. Proper software updating allows ASE and counter-RCIED systems to operate as intended: to identify, classify, and counteract adversaries based upon a detailed definition of electromagnetic spectrum operational characteristics. Because threats vary around the world, ARAT develops regionally focused mission software products, providing the Army's EW operators, aviators, vehicle crews and unit commanders with baseline products tailored to top-priority threats within their current or potential area of operations.
To keep pace with the ever changing EW environment, the ARAT team employees innovate technology and business approaches. Each software product serves as ARAT's baseline on which to adapt existing software to address new or altered threats in a particular region, or to build new products. This approach allows ARAT to keep pace with adversary technological advances to ensure that Army EW systems, some of which have been in service for decades, provide a means of overmatch through their ability to detect and/or counter high-tech, radar-guided air defense missiles and guns, as well as lower-tech RCIED.
Executing a three component approach in accordance with the Army's Rapid Software Reprogramming Strategy ARAT first works proactively with members of the intelligence community who collect and analyze data from within the electromagnetic spectrum. The ARAT team then assesses validated, threat-specific intelligence to determine how current top-priority threats, changes to known threats, and the emergence of new threats may impact current mission software package performance. If a new or altered threat system will have an adverse impact on an Army system's performance, ARAT collaborates with the system's user community to initiate changes, if warranted, to the software.
The third component of the strategy develops responses to changes in threat system capabilities. This is the main focus of ARAT's software engineering efforts. Relying on validated threat data, ARAT subject matter experts design, develop, and test the software solutions. Innovations such as a robust simulations library and environment, automated software package development, and dual testing resources that allow simultaneous validation of multiple systems have reduced the fielding timeline and given ARAT the capability and capacity to stay in step with the Army's high operational tempo.
To ease the end user software integration burden, ARAT has developed innovate methodology to securely transmit the vital updates to operational units.
Once ARAT produces and validates the software, it posts the baseline to a SIPRNet-based portal which provides a secure software distribution logistics capability, accessible by Aviation Mission Survivability Officers (AMSO) and Electronic Warfare Officers (EWO) from anywhere in the world. The portal, built and maintained by ARAT, allows Soldiers to select and download the most current software product for their organic systems (installation is on system by system basis), based on the region of the world in which they operate or plan a deployment to. This empowers commanders and Soldiers with the ability to install mission software, at the time and place of their choosing, as they ready for their missions.
Looking toward the future, as the EW threat continues to evolve so will the ARAT team.
ARAT is set to take on the challenges of the future operational environment, which the Army Operating Concept recognizes as being unknown, unknowable, and constantly changing. Through a combination of process improvements, engineering environment enhancements, and collaboration with Army program managers, the ARAT team is working to address rapid software reprogramming and system sustainment requirements early in new programs--enabling life cycle sustainment planning up front. This collaboration and process improvement will allow ARAT to maintain software products for current systems and the future EW, cyber, and spectrum management systems that will transition to Post Deployment and Post Production Software Support.