Raytheon’s FOXTEN (forward multiplier tactical edge node) is a lightweight, portable, laptop-based system designed to bolster a soldier’s situational awareness (SA) of own and opposing forces, and other dynamics on the battlefield, and convey that information to higher echelons. FOXTEN was initially developed as internal R&D product by Raytheon and was since used, to respond to a US Army request for proposal for the service’s Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A) Increment 1 Capability Drop 1 solution.
The army’s DCGS is an intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance system that enables deployed soldiers to collect, process, and display intelligence information from a variety of sources and sensors. Raytheon’s FOXTEN brings to the soldier in the field numerous capabilities to improve SA, including a data base, mapping and other applications. Emily Catour, Raytheon Program Manager for DCGS Capability Drop 1, pointed out the 2019-era soldier, “does not have anything for this intelligence requirement that is portable like this, now. Their laptop has to be connected to a server in order for them to get their information. They are tethered to a server where this allows them to disconnect and reconnect as they need to – moving from their desk to a ground vehicle or even an airplane.”
Another technology underpinning of Raytheon’s FOXTEN is its open architecture, permitting the military customer to quickly and inexpensively use on-the-shelf or future applications, as simply as an app can now be downloaded onto an iPhone. As significant, FOXTEN integrates different intelligence products, including imagery, signals intelligence and others, “into one place – to see all of that content in one spot and gives them a better idea of what the enemy is doing or will do,” Ms Catour added.
The Raytheon-led FOXTEN team includes Dell (for hardware) and a data base vendor. Raytheon envisions broadening FOXTEN’s customer base beyond US Army, to special operations forces and eventually developing a variant for non-US military users. While Raytheon has completed formal test and evaluation demonstrations for the army in the last six months, the next user event is expected later this year. Palantir Technologies is competing with Raytheon for the DCGS-A contract. Raytheon has used the baseline FOXTEN system to develop TRAILBLAZER, positioning the company to respond to yet another US Army requirement. This higher-level system would permit processing, exploitation and dissemination and near-real time situational awareness across the enterprise.
The request for proposal to replace these heritage-level capabilities is expected later this spring. The new cloud-based, computing infrastructure is envisioned to be used at tactical command centers, providing near-real time common operational picture. “This includes artificial intelligence and machine learning-type functions,” Ms. Catour concluded. Raytheon’s industry team partners for TRAILBLAZER include Accenture and others.