Network-Centric Warfare

Network-centric warfare (NCW) has another name called network-centric operations or net-centric warfare. The network-centric warfare is an information superiority-enabled concept of operations that generates increased combat power by networking sensors, decision-makers, and shooters to achieve shared awareness, increased speed of command, higher tempo of operations, greater lethality, increased survivability, and a degree of self-synchronization. It seeks to translate an information advantage, enabled in part by information technology, into a competitive advantage through the robust computer networking of well-geographically informed dispersed forces.

Network-centric warfare is an application for speeding up communication and increasing situational awareness through networking to improve both the efficiency and effectiveness of military operations. NCW translates information superiority into combat power by effectively linking knowledgeable entities in the battlespace.

The main purpose and use of the Network-centric warfare:

  • A robustly networked force improves information sharing.
  • Information sharing and collaboration enhance the quality of information and shared situational awareness.
  • Sharing situational awareness enables self-synchronization.
  • NCW encourages decentralized decision-making and action, empowering lower-level units to respond quickly to changing circumstances based on the information available to them.
  • NCW shared real-time information with warships, military-grounded vehicles, and aircraft with the connected sensor.
  • NCW emphasizes achieving specific effects on the enemy using a combination of kinetic and non-kinetic means, rather than focusing solely on the destruction of enemy forces.

Technology Revolution in NCW

  • Sensor technology is one of the main revolutions, sensors technology improves the growth of the NCW. Sensors can achieve near-real-time surveillance over vast areas, and another toward smaller, cheaper, more numerous sensors that can be netted to detect, locate, identify, and track targets.
  • The second revolution was made by information technology. The information revolution will bring the geometric increase in computing power necessary to process, collate, and analyze this vast quantity of sensor data. It will provide a means to distribute information to any recipient or “shooter” anywhere in the world at near-real-time speeds.
  • The third revolution happened by weapon technologies. The weapons revolution is a matter of increasing the number of precise munitions by reducing costs. It, like the sensor revolution, is twofold. Better streams of targeting data can permit a “dumbing down” of expensive guidance packages. At the same time, new designs, electronics, “lean” manufacturing, and mass production can decrease the cost for a given level of accuracy and capability.
  • NCO is a potent force multiplier and with the right long-term vision and strategy, it is a game changer in a battlefield scenario. Technologically, NCO consists of a backbone network infrastructure that underpins advanced capabilities like secure communication, battlefield command & control, and application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enhance security capability.

Trends of Network-Centric Warfare:

Technology adoption is the main trend of the NCW. Most of the major players in Network Centric Warfare invest in new technologies to provide the best devices. AI, Machine learning, Big data analytics, and quantum computing are the most adopted technologies by companies. These technologies improve the data processing, decision-making, and more effective utilization of resources.

Network-centric warfare mainly concentrates on cybersecurity challenges. As network-centric warfare systems become increasingly reliant on networked communications and information systems, cybersecurity becomes a critical concern.

Interoperability and Coalition Operations, military operations, interoperability between different military forces, and their network-centric systems become essential. Efforts to standardize communication protocols, data formats, and equipment interfaces facilitate seamless collaboration among allied forces during joint and coalition operations.

Autonomy and Unmanned Systems deploying autonomous systems, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), and autonomous maritime vessels, is expanding the capabilities of network-centric warfare. These systems can operate independently or collaboratively within networked environments, enhancing reconnaissance, surveillance, and targeting capabilities while reducing the risk to human operators.

Ensuring the resilience and redundancy of network-centric warfare systems against disruptions, whether caused by cyber-attacks, electronic warfare, or physical damage, is a growing priority. Redundant communication pathways, backup systems, and resilient network architectures are being developed to maintain operational continuity in adverse conditions.

The concept of human-machine teaming involves integrating human operators with autonomous systems to capitalize on the strengths of both. By combining human decision-making abilities with the speed and precision of AI-driven systems, network-centric warfare capabilities can be further enhanced, leading to more effective and efficient military operations.

The ethical and legal implications of network-centric warfare, particularly regarding the use of autonomous systems and AI in decision-making processes, are receiving increased scrutiny. Efforts to establish guidelines, norms, and regulations governing the responsible use of these technologies are underway to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law and ethical principles.

Network Centric Warfare usage in Grounded vehicle, Ground vehicles are equipped with sensors, such as radars, cameras, and other reconnaissance equipment, that provide data on the surrounding environment. NCW principles emphasize sensor fusion techniques, where data from multiple sources are integrated to create a comprehensive picture of the battlefield. This enhanced situational awareness allows ground vehicle crews to make informed decisions and respond rapidly to changing threats.

The Navy Cooperative Engagement Capability system links Navy ships and aircraft operating in a particular area into a single, integrated air-defense network. The radar data collected by each platform is transmitted in real-time to the other units in the network. Each unit in the CEC network fuses its radar data with data received from the other units. As a result, units in the network share a common, composite, real-time air-defense picture. CEC will permit a ship to shoot air-defense missiles at incoming anti-ship missiles that the ship itself cannot see, using radar targeting data gathered by other units in the network. It will also permit air-defense missiles fired by one ship to be guided by other ships or aircraft.

As both India and the U.K. strive towards protecting national interests within the purview of international laws, it stands to reason that the ability to jointly conduct operations would be a critical asset for both nations. Network Centric Operations (NCO) are the very first step in moving towards that objective as they would become the necessary backbone for the Indian military to build its integrated environment.

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