Project Convergence: Linking modernization efforts across joint domains
by Kristen Burroughs
YUMA PROVING GROUND, Ariz. (November 30, 2021) -- Generating transformational change, showcasing future prototyping efforts, and integrating joint forces are just a few benefits gained from participating in Project Convergence (PC21) held Nov. 9 at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz.
Known as the Army’s campaign of learning, this annual iteration ensures that the Army, as part of the Joint and Combined fight, can rapidly and continuously converge effects across all domains — air, land, sea, space and cyberspace — to overmatch our adversaries in competition and conflict.
The Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO) participated in PC21, showcasing prototypes in an effort to bridge any gaps on a faster, more informed timeline. This structured series of demonstrations is comprised of several core components to include linking together and informing the Army’s “31 +4” modernization efforts. The “+4” are led by the RCCTO and include hypersonics, mid-range capabilities, and directed energy efforts.
“Our goal is to deliver a prototype that Soldiers can use as the mission equipment,” said LTG L. Neil Thurgood, Director of Hypersonics, Directed Energy, Space and Rapid Acquisition, who leads the RCCTO. “Project Convergence links together and informs all the key components of the Army’s modernization efforts.”
The RCCTO highlighted a few of their capabilities to drive innovation and change the future fight to include the Directed Energy Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense (DE M-SHORAD), Virtual Multi-Domain Command and Control Tool (VMDC2), and Family of Counter Unmanned Systems (FoCUS).
The RCCTO is delivering the Directed Energy Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense (DE M-SHORAD) platoon in FY22 to provide a defensive capability against Groups 1-3 UAS, rotary wing platforms and Rocket, Artillery and Mortar (RAM) threats.
In addition to upgrading operational capabilities, the Army is also delivering prototypes to help enhance network capabilities to better operate in the cyber environment.
The RCCTO’s Advanced Concepts and Experimentation (ACE) Project Office conducted an early assessment of an emerging technology known as VMDC2, which was embedded in the tactical operation centers (TOC) of the multi-domain task force and 82nd Airborne. VMDC2 provided capability to effectively communicate, analyze, and make decisions by visualizing and making prompt decisions during combat operations.
Another technology advancement on display was led by the RCCTO’s Rapid Acquisition Prototyping Project Office (RAPPO). The RAPPO accelerates acquisition and technology assessments to include FoCUS. As part of a layered defensive system, the passive and mobile design of the FOCUS system is critical for small tactical unit survivability when under surveillance or attack from sUAS. The system leverages a laser-based multi-function C-UAS technology to passively detect small threat UAS, determine range, temporarily jam the optics and permanently defeat the onboard optics.
In providing these capabilities to the warfighter, the RCCTO understands it can’t be accomplished alone. Creating a partnership and a common understand with industry partners, joint services, Program Executive Offices (PEOs) and Cross-Functional Teams (CFT) drives the success of the Army’s mission set.
PC21 ensures the integration of the Army’s weapons systems command and control systems, and their compatibility with the rest of the Joint Force. The annual demonstration allows The U.S. Army and joint forces to move forward with a continued focus to assist in fielding capabilities to our warfighters.
“It is important to have an event like Project Convergence to ensure all joint forces are working towards synchronized solutions,” said LTG Thurgood. “These are potential solutions that have never been used on the battlefield before and will change the future fight.”