Military and Strategic Journal
Issued by the Directorate of Morale Guidance at the General Command of the Armed Forces
United Arab Emirates
Founded in August 1971

2021-12-01

MUM-T: Taking Man-Machine Connection to Next Level

While men and machines have remained inseparable for years, manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T), a concept which synchronises manned and unmanned platforms with systems-level and operational integration to benefit from the respective strengths, is tightening the bond further. 
 
Bow and arrow days have been left far behind and the modern warfare is witnessing the unleashing of technology at an incomprehensible level. 
MUM-T is becoming one of key innovations that will pave the way to future airpower.
 
Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have increased in number and capability. With growing autonomy, smarter unmanned systems, empowered by artificial intelligence (AI) and mission automation, are able to adapt to higher levels of human-machine teaming.
 
Smart, connected and modular UAS connected by a distributed network of intelligence will act as force multipliers for the manned aircraft, enhancing the team’s capabilities and keeping the pilot out of harm’s way, while still in control. This is why Manned-Unmanned Teaming will be one of the pillars of the future combat systems. 
 
Need for Assessment
At present, it is not unusual for manned and unmanned aircraft to collaborate while working towards a common military goal. Each aircraft may use its strengths to offset the other’s weaknesses, with such pairings intended to increase mission success. This may lead to specific unmanned capabilities being rapidly developed and fielded to fill specific gaps in manned aircraft capability. 
 
This is particularly common during wartime, when demands are at least partially driven by the needs of specific theatres matched with high technology readiness level (TRL) solutions, without an overall assessment of the long-term needs. 
 
Although notionally working together, the aircraft are generally disconnected from one another or used as standalone capabilities without regard for the potential efficiencies introduced by the concept of MUM-T.
 
When studying the concepts of integration and teaming, there is a tendency to automatically consider current commercial/military off the shelf (C/MOTS) solutions for both manned and unmanned aircraft. Although high TRL and a rapid deployment of capabilities are achieved, one can easily lock in to existing and temporary problems and solutions, or field sub-optimal systems that have been designed to solve different problems.
 
If C/MOTS solutions are not explored, research proposals may suggest new technology with a narrow focus to solve outstanding difficult niche issues – e.g., unmanned aerostats for remote Arctic surveillance – which may result in prototypes either falling short of (or not being generally applicable to) other requirements, or suggesting new technology to solve a wide class of problems with complex and expensive systems. 
 
Given the costs associated with procuring new manned aircraft, focus is more on procuring new unmanned capabilities based on the unproven assumption that it will be faster and cheaper to acquire and operate unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). 
 
Pairing today’s manned aircraft with available (or currently high TRL) UAVs may cause militaries to ignore mid- to long-term war fighting needs, while experimentation may fail to identify the right lessons for the aircraft of tomorrow by using restrictive assumptions or limiting experimental parameters.
 
Complicating matters is the fact that most militaries – particularly in nations such as Canada that have small to medium-sized armed forces – cannot afford to maintain many different types of equipment. It is important for decision makers to be presented with a comprehensive assessment of what types of platforms may be useful across a wide array of missions before rushing to acquire or develop specific solutions. 
 
Otherwise, developing a MUM-T team part by part for the problem(s) found in a specific theatre increases the risk of ending up with several niche assets, with little to bring to the next conflict.
 
Milestone Goal
The utility of unmanned systems has increased dramatically from the limited supplementary value they offered earlier to Air Operations Centres (AOCs) and air commanders. Given their ability to provide critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) round-the-clock with increasing persistency, unmanned systems feature as a major element of operations across a broad spectrum of mission profiles for the Air Force today – from disaster relief operations to air combat. 
 
Next generation unmanned platforms will see their utility expanded in high tempo and contested airspaces as technological advances make it possible for these platforms to perform more complex tasks such as aerial refuelling and suppression of enemy air defence (SEAD).
 
Interoperability – the ability of different systems to communicate, exchange and use data from each other – is both a rationale for MUM-T and also and enabler of it. 
In the MUMT context, the highest level of interoperability between a manned and unmanned platform is when a manned platform’s pilot or aircrew is able to control the take-off, flight, payload and landing aspects of its paired unmanned system/s. This level of interoperability between manned/unmanned platforms remains aspirational as of now but the future will inevitably make possible this type of distributed control and multi-platform partnering. 
 
A major milestone towards that goal will be when pilots and crew members on manned platforms will be able to command unmanned platforms, controlling their sensors, receiving direct video and data feeds and actioning kinetic effects in real-time.
 
Basic interoperability is denoted by the ability of a manned platform to receive data from unmanned platforms indirectly via communications relay – it is at this level that most advanced Air Forces currently operate. 
 
Between these ends of interoperability levels there is a large envelope that lies between – for example, where a manned platform is able to communicate directly with an unmanned platform –or where an aircrew can directly control the flight an unmanned platform while the ground aspects of the platform’s operations, such as its take-off and landing, are commanded from elsewhere.
 
Unmanned Platforms
The prospect of highly autonomous unmanned platforms is a matter of when – not if or how – even considering the potential ethical and legal dimensions these developments will need to be addressed with.
 
Legacy unmanned platforms are utilised for intelligence-gathering, delivering munitions and other effects such as electronic attack (EA) with a ground-based mission crew monitoring and directing outcomes – but lack the ability to respond to evolving operational needs or changes in their environment by themselves. 
 
As unmanned platforms become more autonomous, they will become more interactive with their operational and threat environment and become capable of executing mission functions with less human guidance and inputs. 
 
Emerging breakthroughs in autonomous unmanned platforms introduce the notion of distributed Command and Control (C2) in more powerful ways in addition to highlighting the accelerating transition from traditional “human in the loop” operating approaches towards “human on the loop” ones. 
 
Significant Benefits
Among the advantages of MUM-T capability are: 
Decreasing risk - Unmanned platforms will be able to take over the most high-risk tasks, increasing pilot safety.
* A force multiplier - Multiplying airborne capabilities with Remote Carriers flying alongside manned aircraft, performing ISR tasks
* A pillar for the future - a key part of the Future Combat Air System, synergising the best of manned and unmanned
Levels of Interoperability (LOI)
 
The employment of MUM-T is defined in five LOIs:
Level 1 – Receipt of information from the unmanned platform via its ground control element;
Level 2 – Direct receipt of information from a UAS to a manned helicopter; (via remote terminal);
Level 3 – Manned platform directly controls the payload of the UAS directly;
Level 4 – Manned platform controls the airborne platform & payload, except recovery;
Level 5 – All functions supported in Level 4 plus the ability to take off and recovery of the UAS;
Level-X – Refers to the evolving capability of a single manned platform to control multiple UAX.
 
The first operational platform to utilise MUM-T was implemented with AH-64D APACHE attack helicopters, converted to operate an MQ-1C GRAY EAGLE drone via a rotor-hub mounted Common datalink. 
 
This application supported Level-2 MUM-T, where the pilot or co-pilot in the modified APACHE can receive sensor video streaming from the drone. This datalink can retransmit full motion video received from the drone, or the APACHE’s own TADS/PNVS sight with relevant metadata to another MUM-T equipped APACHE or ground element equipped with One Station Remote Video Terminal (OSRVT).
 
A more advanced configuration currently in the making is L3’s applique for the new and remanufactured AH-64E (ECHO). It provides APACHE aircrews with increased SA and NC interoperability while reducing sensor-to shooter timelines and increased survivability for the gunships.
 
This new gear expands the Echo to support MUM-T Level 3 and 4, enabling the pilot to control the drone’s payloads and flight path. 
To further expand capabilities the U.S Army plans to test Rafael Spike NLOS guided missiles with AH-64E. Fired from ranges up to 30 kilometres, Attack helicopters carrying such weapons would greatly benefit from UAS interoperability.
 
European Initiatives
MUM-T capability is not restricted to the U.S Military. Many other air forces in Europe, Middle East and Australia are actively engaged in research and experimentation and have formulated acquisition plan for such capabilities. 
 
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI), the manufacturer of the MQ-9 REAPER and PREDATOR XP have pitched this capability for the international market since 2017, introducing MUM-T capabilities with its export-oriented PREDATOR XP drone. In its marketing, GA-ASI featured increased survivability for the manned platforms, faster target engagement with long range engagements and efficient battle command, based on fresh information obtained via the drones.
 
L3 has emphasised their MUM-T capabilities as featured in the AH-64 manned helicopter platform, MQ-8 GRAY EAGLEs, SHADOW and RAVEN UAS. According to the company, the technology can be optimised for other airborne assets used by NATO and international partners.
 
In 2018, Airbus became the first European helicopter manufacturer to demonstrate this technology with the highest level of interoperability. The tests held in Austria employed an Airbus H145 specially equipped and integrated with datalink and UAS control application, and a standard Schiebel S-100 CAMCOPTER. 
 
In 2018, the German Army experimented with MUM-T technology. During a flight demonstration a pilot controlled an UMS SKELDAR helicopter drone while flying a helicopter specially equipped with MUM-T mission equipment provided by ESG. The test flights verified the capability of a UAV teaming with the manned helicopter, controlled as an unmanned wingman on a command basis. 
 
Another MUM-T demonstration was carried out in the UK by QinetiQ. This experiment featured Search and Rescue (SAR) missions augmented by drones. The drone performed missions off the coast of Wales. While the drone was flown under the control of forward ground control centre, its sensors were controlled by the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) control centre, located 200 miles away from the site. 
 
The live situational awareness feed, which included marked up imagery, search status and reference points, was simultaneously distributed to multiple teams at the search site in Llanbedr, and to remote sites in Fareham, London and Southampton.
 
New Concepts
The U.S Army Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team (FVL CFT) is exploring various concepts of manned-unmanned teaming for a range of missions and the helicopters currently being evaluated for future procurement are expected to field with MUM-T capabilities.
 
U.S. helicopter manufacturers exploring MUM-T capabilities with current and future platforms include Sikorsky, Boeing and Bell. Sikorsky explores various helicopter autonomy capabilities through the Aircrew Labor In cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) programme managed by DARPA. 
 
ALIAS provides different autonomy functions assisting the crew by reducing workload, up to the level of removing the entire crew from the aircraft. The programme provides for optionally piloted systems that would eventually enable the integration of manned/unmanned teams with existing UH-60 helicopters.
 
High Priority Focus
MUM-T has turned out to be a high priority focus for long-term force planning, and rightly so. 
The idea is to enable future military forces to reduce manpower while increasing combat capabilities, keep the human warfighter out of immediate danger, and leave the human operator bandwidth and attention to manage the overall mission. 
 
The ability of unmanned platforms to intelligently detect changes in operational circumstances, make rapid judgments and alter or pursue new courses of action to make possible desired outcomes will be a major leap. 
 
The MUM-T interaction is proportional to the expectations humans place on systems. Due to the complexity of full automation, the development of autonomous systems that can support (man and unmanned teaming), should be based on a detailed foundation of research on human automation interaction. Ignoring MUM-T no more remains a choice.

Reference Text:
 

Add Comment

Your comment was successfully added!

Visitors Comments

No Comments

Related Topics

Naval Combat Management Systems

Read More

BRIT FIRMS UNVEIL AUDS

Read More

No Scope for Laxity in Space Infrastructure Security

Read More

Mars Landings Point to a Human Future

Read More

MULTI-TASK MIGHT

Read More

All You Need To Know About The USAF’s T-X Contest

Read More
Close

2021-12-30 Current issue
Pervious issues
2017-05-13
2014-03-16
2012-01-01
2014-01-01
2021-02-25
2021-02-21
2021-02-22
2021-10-01
.

Voting

?What about new design for our website

  • Excellent
  • Very Good
  • Good
Voting Number 1647