Navy Command and Control: Data Fusion Needs and Capabilities for Battle Group Commanders

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1990-03-07.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

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                           Briefing Report to the Chairman,
                           Legislation and National Security
                           Subcommittee, Committee on
                           Government Operations, House of

                           NAVY COMMAND
                           AND CONTROL
                           Data Fusion Needs and
                           Capabilities for Battle
                           Group Commanders
United States
General Accounting Off’ice
Washington, D.C. 20648

National Security and
International Afl’airs Division



The Honorable John Conyers, Jr.
Chairman, Legislation    and National
  Security Subcommittee
Committee on Government Operations
House of Representatives
Dear Mr. Chairman:
As you requested on February 8, 1989, and in subsequent
discussions   with your office,   we assessed the acquisition
management of selected data fusion efforts      within the U.S.
Navy Command and Control System (NCCS). Data fusion is
defined as the merging of information      from a variety of
sources.    It is essential   for making sound and timely combat
decisions.                                               I
This briefing   report provides     the results of the first     phase
of our review, which addresses        battle group commanders' data
fusion needs and capabilities       at sea (afloat)  to support
combat decisions.      The second   phase, currently   underway,
will address Navy commanders'       data fusion needs and
capabilities   ashore.
According to the Navy, automated data fusion development has
been hampered because of funding difficulties.             As an
alternate    approach, the Navy is developing a limited           interim
system,    has expanded and plans to modify existing          systems,
and has consolidated        some data fusion programs.       However,
none of these efforts        will fully meet the data fusion
requirements-- individually         or collectively.   Until a full
capability     is available      (now planned for 19941, data fusion
will be limited,      resulting     in a continuing  unsatisfactory
tactical    picture   for battle group commanders.
U.S. Navy battle groups afloat are faced with an
ibcreasingly     sophisticated array of weapon capabilities     from
aircraft,    surface ships, and submarines that pose a
potential    threat over large portions  of the oceans.     This

    threat capability        has led to a significant      reduction    in the
    time that battle group commanders have available               to react to
    hostile    situations.      As a result,    the Navy has identified       a
    need for (1) wide-area surveillance,            (2) communications that
    are secure and resistant        to electronic     jamming, and (3) an
    automated data fusion capability          to more effectively      manage
    information      received about this potential       threat.
    The Assistant      Secretary of the Navy for Research,
    Engineering,     and Systems, in a statement on the Navy's
    fiscal    years 1988-89 research, development, test, and
    evaluation     budget, emphasized that (1) wide-area
    surveillance     is key to the Navy's forward deployed strategy,
     (2) reliable    communications are essential       to control weapon
    systems, including       those that extend beyond the horizon,      and
     (3) rapid data fusion is critical       to effective    decision-
    making at all levels of command. Basically,            battle group
    commanders need an accurate picture        of their area of
    responsibility      to make sound and timely combat decisions       and
    to efficiently      use their weapons.
    Navy battle groups afloat obtain threat data from numerous
    sources through NCCS, which consists of various facilities,
    equipment, communications,    procedures,  and personnel.   NCCS
    iS organized  into two parts:- NCCS afloat   and NCCS ashore.
    --   NCCS afloat systems include sensors and other electronic
         equipment that belong to the battle groups.     These
         systems collect  and process data about potential   threats
         and targets that extend out to about 1,000 miles from the
         battle groups.   The data is referred to as organic
         because the systems are under the control of battle group
    --   NCCS ashore systems include sengors and other electronic
         equipment that provide national   and theater-wide   data.
         Data from these systems are processed and evaluated at
         installations  ashore before being provided to the battle
         groups and are referred   to as nonorganic because the
         associated systems are not controlled     by battle group
    According to the Navy, current data fusion capabilities
    afloat   are incomplete,   manpower intensive,  and time-
    consuming.     An automated capability   to more rapidly  and

effectively    fuse data from systems ashore with data from
systems afloat does not currently        exist.     The problem is
intensified    by an increasing     volume of data from wide-area
surveillance     sensors located both inside and outside the
battle groups.      The Navy states that these data fusion
problems result     in an unsatisfactory     tactical   picture for
decision-making     by battle   group commanders.
A December 1986 Navy operational          test report on fleet
capabilities     to conduct over-the-horizon        detection,
classification,      and targeting   highlighted     these problems.
The report stated that (1) manual correlation1              delays were a
major obstacle to producing a timely tactical              picture,
(2) errors occurred because multiple           target tracks appeared
for only a single platform,        (3) transfer     of nonorganic data
to commanders was excessively         slow, (4) commanders
disregarded     some nonorganic data because sources were
omitted,     and (5) target tracks were duplicated          and
maintained,     which overloaded the processing systems.
In 1983, the Navy established       an operational    requirement     for
an automated data fusion capability.         A 1985 Navy Decision
Coordinating    Paper establishing    an Afloat Correlation       System
(ACS) project    to meet this requirement      stated that ACS
should be operational      in 1990. However, full performance of
an operational    ACS is now scheduled for 1994--4 years later
than originally     planned.    Meanwhile, other systems are being
acquired,    expanded, and modified,     none of which will have
the required ACS capabilities.
ACS Design and Funding      History
ACS is designed to (1) merge data collected      from battle
group organic sensors with data from nonorganic sensors
outside the battle group, (2) correlate    data by establishing
relationships  between new contacts and known tracks of air,
surface, and subsurface platforms,    and (3) transfer    data to
other systems for presentation   while providing     automated

lcorrelation  is defined as establishing the relationship
between new contacts and known tracks of air, surface,             and
subsurface platforms.

    decision aids to battle group commanders. In 1985, the Navy
    planned to develop, procure, and operate 17 shipboard and 2
    shore-based ACSs at a total estimated cost of about $291
    ACS is one of several battle force information                systems
    designed to support battle group operations.                 However, it is
    the only system designed to do the unique functions                 of
    integrating       and correlating    nonorganic data with organic
    data, and displaying         the resulting    information     at both the
    sensitive      compartmented and general services levels of
    classification.        Currently,    no single automated system
    exists that brings data together in one place afloat                  for
    evaluation      and display to battle group commanders. Navy
    officials      stated that an ACS capability        is critical     for
    improving battle group command and control               and to support
    battle group operations.
    According to the Navy, ACS development has been hampered
    during 2 of the last 5 years because of funding
    difficulties.           For example, Navy officials         stated that in
    fiscal      year 1987, the Congress reduced the ACS research,
    development,        test, and evaluation         budget request from $15.1
    million       to $10.1 million        and directed     the Navy to proceed
    cautiously       to provide time to evaluate lessons learned from
    other data fusion programs.                The officials    also stated that
    this resulted         in delaying the ACS project          about one year.
    Regarding the fiscal            year 1988 budget, Navy officials           stated
    that because congressional               actions specified     full   funding
    for two other projects             within the same program element, the
    $11 million       requested for ACS was effectively              reduced to
    $1.4 million.           The officials      also stated that this disrupted
    the ACS project,          causing further       delay.
    Navy officials    stated that during the other 3 fiscal         years,
    however, the Navy either reprogrammed funds to meet its
    needs or did not experience funding reductions.            In fiscal
    year 1986, the Navy requested $3 million.           The Congress
    provided $1.8 million      based on concerns that the Navy needed
    to work more closely with the other services on data fusion
    issues.     In May 1986, however, the Navy reprogrammed $1.2
    million   back into the ACS project.      In fiscal    years 1989 and
    1990, the Navy received the amounts requested--$11.7            million
    and $8.3 million,     respectively.

Limited    Interim     ACS Is Being Developed
Navy officials       stated that because of the funding
difficulties,      they restructured       the ACS project    in June 1988
to provide for an interim         system called the ACS Operational
Development Model (ODM). However, ODM is expected to have
considerably     less capability       than the Navy originally
planned for ACS. For example, ACS is required to fuse and
correlate     a given amount of targeting        and tracking    data and
handle multilevels        of security    data up through sensitive
compartmented information.            The ODM is only designed to
provide about one-half        of the ACS target tracking        capability
and has no means of handling sensitive            compartmented
Under the 1988 restructuring,     the Navy planned a sea-based
development test for ODM in 1990, followed by an operational
test in late 1992. However, Navy representatives      stated
that some of this testing     may be delayed until ACS software
is judged ready.   ACS software to meet full data fusion
requirements  is not scheduled to be completed until fiscal
year 1994.
Other Limited        Data Fusion Efforts
Because of the critical            need for data fusion, Navy officials
explained that non-ACS funds were used to expand and modify
existing     systems to provide fleet commanders with other
limited    data fusion capabilities.               For example, according to
these officials,         fleet commanders requested in 1985 that
deployment of an off-the-shelf               system called the Prototype
Ocean Surveillance           Terminal (POST) be expanded.              POST
collects,      correlates,      and displays       a variety of nonorganic
intelligence       information,       but is limited       to about 5 to 15
percent of the ACS requirements.                  The Navy has now spent
about $3 million        to install       about 40 POST systems on major
combatant ships.           In addition     to this expanded deployment,
the Navy planned an improvement program to modify and
enhance POST capabilities             (specifically,       correlation    and
multiple     target tracking         software).      This capability      was
originally      scheduled to become available              in the fall of
1989, but the Navy decided to delay its implementation
because of insufficient            resources.
The Navy also planned to upgrade its Tactical    Flag Command
Center/Flag  Data Display System (TFCC/FDDS) to use the
improved POST software.    The Navy has deployed TFCC/FDDS on
six aircraft  carriers,  and according to Navy officials,
5   *

plans to add 16 more to the fleet inventory.          TFCC/FDDS is
used by battle group commanders to process and display
organically       received general service data.    It includes a
limited     fusion capability--    also about 5 to 15 percent of the
ACS requirements.         If improved POST and TFCC/FDDS were used
together,      the Navy expects its data fusion capability     to
meet about 40 to 50 percent of the ACS requirements.
Current    Afloat   Correlation   Plans
In August 1989, the Navy consolidated            the ACS program with
other NCCS afloat programs to integrate             fleet support
requirements,      reduce costs, and eliminate         duplicate  system
development.       However, Navy officials       acknowledged that this
consolidation      effort   will still  not provide an adequate
tactical    picture    to battle group commanders. They stated
that the data fusion capabilities          afloat will still      be
incomplete,     manpower intensive,    and time-consuming        until  the
full ACS capability       is provided in 1994.
As requested by the Chairman, Legislation          and National
Security Subcommittee, House Committee on Government
Operations,    we assessed the acquisition      management of
selected Navy data fusion efforts        to identify    deficiencies,
evaluate plans to overcome any deficiencies,           and determine
the progress being made. We are reporting            on the results   of
our work in two phases.       This briefing    report addresses
battle group commanders' data fusion needs and capabilities
at sea (afloat)     to support combat decisions.        A second
effort,   currently   underway, will address Navy commanders'
data fusion needs and capabilities        ashore.
We interviewed     officials      responsible   for Navy data fusion
efforts    in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Office of
the Chief of Naval Operations,           Office of the Navy
Comptroller,     and Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command.
We also interviewed        selected contractor      representatives
associated with Navy data fusion systems afloat.                 We
reviewed and analyzed planning and contractual              documents,
cost and schedule information,           system requirements      and
design data, and correspondence concerning the management
and direction     of the Navy's afloat data fusion program.            Our
review was performed from November 1988 to January 1990 in
accordance with generally          accepted government auditing


As agreed with your office,   we did not obtain official
agency comments. However, we did discuss the contents of
this briefing  report with Navy officials   and their comments
have been incorporated   where appropriate.

Unless you publicly      announce its contents earlier,      we plan
no further  distribution     of this briefing    report until   30
days from the date of this letter.         At that time, we will
send copies to the Secretaries       of Defense and Navy; the
Director,  Office of Management and Budget; and other
interested  parties.
Please contact me at 275-4841 if       you or your staff have any
questions concerning this report.        Other major contributors
are listed  in appendix I.

            , Command, Control,   Communications,
     and Intelligence  Issues

APPENDIX I                                              APPENDIX I


Homer H. Thomson, Assistant    Director
Kent L. Fixman, Evaluator-in-Charge
Richard 0. Kyhn, Evaluator
Robert G. Carpenter,  Evaluator



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