C51 Roadmap and Concepts - Future Beyond Line of Sight Communication (FBLOSC).

Military, communication and double exposure with a woman user online for location or tactical strategy. Map, dashboard or interface with a young army person talking to a soldier on a secure headset

The Dstl “C5I Roadmap and Concepts” project sought to understand the Defence need for Future Beyond Line of Sight Communication (FBLOSC) in the 2025-2040 timeframe and identify opportunities to develop communication technologies, informing S&T investment.

Background and requirement

The Dstl “C5I Roadmap and Concepts” project is part of the Communications and Network Research Programme. This project purpose was to understand the Defence need for Future Beyond Line of Sight Communication (FBLOSC) in the 2025-2040 timeframe and identify opportunities to develop communication technologies, to inform and direct S&T investment and capability planning.

Approach

The project was divided into two phases:

  • In Phase 1, TP Group evidenced the Defence need for FBLOSC.
  • In Phase 2, TP Group assessed various technology blocks (means of FBLOSC) to understand their ability to meet the Defence need and identify any opportunities for development.

To define and evidence the Defence need for FBLOSC, TP Group used internal experts and domain knowledge to build a set of military scenarios, from which communication Use Cases and Information Requirements (IRs) were developed. This provided a detailed list of communication requirements, complete with their characteristics, which linked back to the wider operational need. TP Group developed Measures of Merit (MoM), by drawing on experience from the SKYNET programme, reviewing MOD policies and interviewing stakeholders. The MoM set became an assessment framework for the capability of each technology block to meet the FBLOSC requirements.

To complete the first phase of work, TP Group lead a workshop with stakeholders and military communication users, where work-to-date was briefed and feedback elicited for incorporation into the project. A Concept of Analysis was created, to capture how the evidence set gathered in this phase should be used to perform the assessment of technology blocks in Phase 2.

To conduct the assessment, TP Group directed PA Consulting (a member of the team led by TP Group) to define and characterise a list of technology blocks to be evaluated. The blocks were described through technology research, and engagement with stakeholders and SMEs. TP Group analysts designed and implemented a set of scoring rules, allowing rapid and consistent scoring of each technology block’s ability to serve the IRs. Scoring data was also analysed to determine trends, which allowed TP Group to report IR characteristics which are challenging to fulfil and how combinations of technology blocks could be used to cover the breadth of communication needs across the Use Cases.

Outcome

TP Group delivered an assessment of the characteristics and capabilities of various communications technologies into the future, and recommended various opportunities for S&T investment to improve the capacity, availability and security of these technologies to meet the future Defence need for BLOS communication. This assessment was twinned with a Concept of Analysis for further work, which describes how the identified investment opportunities can be further defined and prioritised, including quantifying the performance benefits of the options, a cost-effectiveness comparison, and investigation of wider factors, such as the impact on Defence Lines of Development.

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