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Chadwick on Maritime ISR: Commanding the Sea from Space to the Ocean Floor

Boeing Defense, Space & Security President and CEO Chris Chadwick
Boeing Defense, Space & Security President and CEO Chris Chadwick

The International Institute for Strategic Studies hosted the 14th Asia Security Summit, the IISS the Shangri-La Dialogue, in Singapore to bring together heads of state, diplomats, officials and industry for a discussion on global security. Speaking during a panel discussion at the summit, Boeing Defense, Space & Security President and CEO Chris Chadwick outlined his thoughts on maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
Chadwick was joined on the panel  by Dr. Tim Huxley, Executive Director, IISS-Asia; Gen. Tan Sri Zulkifeli Mohd Zin, Chief of Defence Forces, Malaysia;  Adm. Harry B. Harris, Commander, United States Pacific Command; Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez, Commander, Western Command, Armed Forces of the Philippines; and Patrick Dewar, Executive Vice President, Lockheed Martin International.
Below are Chadwick’s remarks as prepared for the panel discussion: Thank you, Tim, and good afternoon everyone. It is a pleasure being here and it is a pleasure to be on this panel with General Zulkifeli, Admiral Harris, Admiral Lopez and Mr Dewar.  

As we just heard from this side of the table, sophisticated real-time understanding of what is happening above, on and under the water is essential to maintaining stability and prosperity for billions of people around the world, and as Admiral Lopez just noted, the highest priority here in the South China Sea. It has always been that way, and it will always be that way.  

What is different is the incredible transformation of maritime ISR capabilities; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; that are being driven by advances in information technology, which enables the transparency and sharing of information as highlighted by Admiral Harris.  

It was not so long ago that a military commander standing watch over an expanse of ocean could only dream of having a comprehensive and real-time situational analysis of the maritime environment. Today, it is real. With a few clicks of a mouse, that commander can pull together information from satellites, manned and unmanned aircraft, ships, and even underwater assets, to form a picture of the situation at hand. A commander’s ability to execute the mission has clearly improved, and will continue to.  

However, in maritime ISR, as in most things in life, one can sometimes have too much of a good thing. Our commander has access to more data than ever before; that same data can easily become overwhelming. What is needed is actionable information, and the opportunity is upon us to focus more intently on how systems can correlate in ways that turn data into useful information within a common operating environment to provide a coherent picture of the situation at hand – a picture, I would add, that not only the commander, but all users should be able to see and update real-time. Whether it is strategic, operational or tactical information, as General Zulkifeli noted, the picture will remain current.  

Here is a reality. The transformation in information tools, applications and security requirements that are sweeping the post-PC and telecommunication world is global, and our customers want it. It enhances capability for their platforms and it allows us to transcend the orthodoxy of how it used to be by providing our customers with solutions that they did not even know were within their grasps.  

We have been working on this for some time. Common information standards and protocols, open software architectures and common mission systems, are important elements of delivering the actionable information our customers need. In the future, having predictive analytical tools that rapidly sort through gigabytes of data to generate a cohesive threat assessment that otherwise would have been lost amid a plethora of data is essential for optimal situational awareness, and for a commander to make critical decisions.  

I think we can all say that we are making progress, yet there is still so much more to be done. Consider this: right now in this room, everyone can access free live video feeds from thousands of locations worldwide. What was once available to only the most sophisticated military force is now available to anybody with a smartphone and the right app.  

That kind of access to information reflects our expectations in the 21st  century. Building the capacity to acquire that level of information, along with critically important correlated intelligence, will help complete this picture. We in the industry have to understand what commanders need and adapt our approaches to deliver it quickly and affordably.  

It is clear: maritime ISR is being fundamentally changed by the information revolution. Our challenge is to simply make it real, bringing insights to the national leadership and military commanders here in South-East Asia so they can plan for what they will need, and we must continue to provide options that are affordable to acquire, operate and maintain.  

Enduring peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region is important to the world. Continuously improving the collective understanding of the maritime domain here is a mission we in industry share and feel especially proud to support. You have our commitment that we will do exactly that.

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