Multi-National Collaboration Key to Successful EDGE 23

By Nelson Ballew, Future Vertical Lift - Cross Functional Team Public AffairsJune 5, 2023

A photo of flags from participating countries.
Experimental Demonstration Gateway Event (EDGE) 23, partner countries flags are displayed at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona. Countries present were Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Norway, and The Netherlands as part of the International Distinguished Visitor day. (Photo Credit: US Army photo by Nelson E. Ballew Jr.) VIEW ORIGINAL

The ability to successfully communicate often dictates the outcome of any conflict.

“Success in delivering the Army of 2030 means we must also be able to rapidly and reliably communicate data with ourselves, sister services, and coalition partners,” said Col. Jason Fryman, chief of staff for Future Vertical Lift – Cross Functional Team. “I believe that we successfully demonstrated that ability at Yuma Proving Grounds during EDGE 23.”

For three weeks in May 2023, the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) was a test center for communications and interoperability between the U.S. participants and our ten International partners during Experimental Demonstration Gateway Event (EDGE) 23; as well as other experiments that were conducted.

“First of all I think we are very lucky and fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in EDGE within this multinational surrounding and especially with our U.S. partners because in my view the U.S. is for us always the yardstick where we have to adhere to and our primary goal was in this given framework of aviation to look at interoperability changes, because I think from our perspective that is the greatest challenge that we as a coalition are currently having,” said Lt. Gen. Andreas Marlow, Vice Chief of German Army Staff.

During the event Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and The Netherlands as well as other participating international teammates demonstrated successful interoperability and the ability to effectively communicate among themselves as well as U.S. organizations like Future Vertical Lift – Cross Functional Team, the 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry ‘Iron Rakkasans,’ 3rd Brigade 101st Airborne Division as well as the many other U.S. organizations taking part.

The Royal Canadian Air Force brought a CH147F Chinook Helicopter to EDGE 23. The Chinook’s availability provided the platform for our international partners to participate in a multi-national air-assault training event in coordination with aircraft and Soldiers from the Rakkasans. Onboard the Chinook were troops representing The Netherlands, Germany, and Italy. The execution was a success.

The air assault from an aviation perspective gave us the plan with, and fly missions in conjunction with Alpha Company, 5-101,” said Lt. Col. Colin Coakwell of the Royal Canadian Air Force. It was a great opportunity for our aircrew to be able to work with our U.S. counterparts to discuss air assault procedures and the required mission planning, airspace deconfliction and coordination of supporting activities with them."

"With Canada providing the Chinook aircraft to support EDGE 23 experimentation events it also provided the opportunity to work with Italian, German and Dutch soldiers during the air assault iterations. This allowed our personnel to practice procedures and allowed for great working relationships to be formed, contributing to interoperability," said Coakwell.

In addition to their air assault mission participation, The Netherland’s successfully demonstrated the ability to communicate across joint multi-domain’s by connecting the higher tier of the air domain to the lower tier allowing for shared situational awareness. In their experiment a 5th generation fighter gathered battlefield situational information and relayed it through battle management system at the operations center to a hand-held device in the back of a helicopter cockpit monitors. The ability to create a common operating picture for the U.S. and its teammates, has the potential to change the battlefield geometry against any future adversary.

While the air assault operations and joint domain communications were being conducted French and Italian UAS were busy carrying sensors and helping to collect data for the German Army in addition to themselves. It was just another example of multi-national collaboration during EDGE 23.