Importance of AIR 6500 program and AI

The recent Defence Connect article Enabling the ‘system of systems’ and ADF interoperability with AIR 6500 highlights the importance of the program.

Under project AIR 6500, the ADF will create a system of systems to allow the rapid detection, decision and response to future air and missile threats to the Australian mainland and deployed forces, including a ballistic missile defence (BMD) capability.

The 2016 Defence Integrated Investment Plan states an AIR 6500 program cost of $2-3 billion over the 2018-30. The complexity and magnitude of AIR 6500 takes it beyond the capabilities of any one company.

A complex air picture to the near north of Australia

AOS’s Air Battle Management “Intelligent Battlespace Advisor” is designed to support the Air Battle Managers (ABMs) as they determine the threat and manage the BLUFOR response.

The system is based upon a multi-agent architecture, with a BDI agent assigned to each BLUFOR asset under the control of the ABMs. Each agent is configured for the aircraft it is assigned to, and maintains its own real-time local database that includes:

  • A/C type and performance
  • Current position and altitude
  • Weapons and fuel state
  • Endurance at current power and altitude
  • Commitment to its current goal, e.g., maintain CAP
  • In the case of tankers, their remaining offload fuel, and if currently refuelling.

Agents are assigned to each airbase, to maintain base status, such as runway operational state, local weather, etc. Potentially the airbases could be decomposed into a multi-agent subsystem, with agents responsible for fuel delivery scheduling, weapons availability and other immediate operational constraints on launching replacement aircraft, or turning around returning ones.

Agents allocated to the aircraft and other BLUFOR assets

Currently the actions required to respond to an intruder are performed manually, with the ABMs receiving real-time updates from the aircraft (via Link 16), monitoring the Recognised Air Picture, determining and modifying the AAR schedule, and determining the response.

The only available aids are spreadsheets, used as aides-memoire, to record aircraft and crew status. During periods of high alert, with aircraft on CAP, the workload is continuous and high, and when the intruders are identified the level becomes intense.

The concept for the IBA Response Decision Aid is to provide decision support to the ABMs, performing routine monitoring and information collection, allowing the operators to focus on their primary ABM role.