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Army, Navy, and Marines join hands in air warfare

For the first time ever, the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps were working together with a single integrated air picture, relayed from up high in real time. The Navy’s Cooperative Engagement Capability, or CEC, Program Office, the Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command’s Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System, or JLENS, Project Office, and the Marine Corps’ CEC ashore node successfully demonstrated tomorrow’s technology today during Joint Task Force Exercise 98-2.

During the exercise, the U.S. Marine Corps’ CEC ashore node in Virginia Beach, Va., with the aid of the JLENS CEC communications relay in Elizabeth City, N.C., provided data links for the control of aircraft and facilitated the defense of U.S. forces from air-breathing cruise missiles and theater ballistic missiles. The CEC ashore node served as the Regional Air Defense Center, located in a split-site configuration, for air assets with the USS Cape St. George. With the correlation of sensor track data into a single track, displayed identically on all node workstations, CEC increased the situational awareness of all commanders and served as the stepping stone to a joint composite tracking network, a major step in modern air warfare interoperability.

Also involved in the exercise were the USS Mount Whitney, and a module at John Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Lab (Laurel, Md.). This fleet battle experiment enabled all operators to make direct input to the system developers and will give the Navy, Marines, and the Army the right tracking capabilities sooner. All teams were able to conduct this experiment with only a few days of orientation on this equipment.