YUMA PROVING GROUND, Ariz. --- To win a fight against a foe with similar weapons and capabilities, the U.S. military’s ability to find and strike that enemy must become exponentially faster, and at this austere weapons testing range in southern Arizona, the Army is leveraging new technology to do just that.
With a room full of top officers from the Army and all of its sister military services watching Monday, Army Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman led demonstrations illustrating precisely how the service intends to slash its targeting process from tens of minutes to tens of seconds. Coffman, who for the last six weeks has run the Army’s Project Convergence at Yuma Proving Ground, said the key is new technology — artificial intelligence — that can gather and process massive streams of data faster than teams of humans ever could.
“We're going to be able to put fires on the enemy faster than the enemy fires on us,” Coffman said Monday after the first of two Project Convergence demonstrations this week. The second was held at Yuma on Wednesday. “We’re going to be able to see him first, we're going to be able to decide what we want to do first, and we’re going to be able to engage first.”
In a series of tests Monday, intelligence-gathering sensors on space-based satellites, low-flying drones and military ground vehicles located mockups representing enemy air defense systems, tanks and other hostile targets spread across the Yuma desert range. The sensors relayed the target information to computer systems, which then identified the target and determined the best means to kill it — long-range artillery, a drone-fired missile, traditional mortar rounds or machine-gun fire.
In one demonstration, sensors on a low-Earth orbit satellite spotted an object, which was determined by an artificial intelligence program called Firestorm to be an enemy air defense weapon. Firestorm then prioritized that target as necessary to destroy, and recommended long-range artillery — in this case, a self-propelled [howitzer] — to shoot. At that point a human finally became involved in the process: A commander made the ultimate decision to strike, and the soldiers in the cannon fired. The entire process took less than one minute. (end of excerpt)
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