Project DABINETT was initiated in 2004 and was (of course) an ambitious programme to provide the unifying glue for in service and planned collection platforms. Designed to eliminate the all too common information stovepipes it was to introduce a common architecture for the effective processing, exploitation and dissemination of data, information and intelligence. In addition, it was to provide ‘adaptable ISTAR platforms’, ‘Urban ISTAR’ and ‘Deep and Persistent ISTAR’
The single statement of user need was;
The user requires a UK, deep and persistent ISTAR capability, providing timely collection, processing and dissemination, that is interoperable with joint and coalition forces and which is available to support the full range of military tasks
Looking at it simplistically, DABINETT was to comprise two components. The central management and dissemination core surrounded by a number of deep and persistent collectors, for example ASTOR and Watchkeeper.
Within DABINETT was a definition of the intelligence cycle, with each being addressed as part of the programme.
Direction: This stage takes into account what intelligence is needed and asks the question of whether the intelligence already exists. ISTAR staff will break down prioritised Intelligence Requirements (IR) into Requests for Information (RFI) and then into tasks. If suitable intelligence is not accessible then ISTAR staff will assess what ISTAR assets are required or available to collect it. Once a suitable ISTAR asset is identified by the ISTAR staff then the instructions for the collection tasks are disseminated to the ISTAR asset. However, if intelligence already exists then it is disseminated in a timely manner to the commander.
Collection: An ISTAR asset is tasked to collect data
Processing: The analysis of collected data to produce the requested intelligence
Dissemination: Delivering the requested intelligence to the right person at the right time
In 2006 the decision was made to raid the DABINETT piggy bank and obtain a pair of General Atomics Predator B UAV’s, these subsequently became Reapers. The move was described as a lead in capability to DABINETT and would be funded ‘in a novel way’ or, bringing forward funding.
In 2008, in evidence to the Defence Select Committee, the MoD confirmed that DABINETT was still in concept phase and was described as;
A system of systems to address our future Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) requirements, DABINETT aims to address two distinct but related capability gaps—the ability to undertake deep and persistent surveillance of the battlefield and the ability to manage the intelligence cycle efficiently from end to end. Given its wide scope, DABINETT plans to adopt a programme approach with individual projects or groups of projects managed within an overall programme framework. Delivery is likely to be incremental and include a combination of existing and future platforms and sensors, support centres and links to intelligence systems.
The DABINETT Programme Initial Gate was approved in January 2008 and three projects were initiated. These were intended to deliver an intelligence requirements management and resource tasking tool to improve use of ISTAR resources including UAVs; to provide, in conjunction with DII, information handling services to improve dissemination of intelligence through an ISTAR virtual knowledge base; and to integrate imagery sources through this virtual knowledge base, including WATCHKEEPER data.
Early 2010, DABINETT was renamed to SOLOMON.
In February 2010 the MoD let parallel assessment phase contracts to BAe INSYTE and Lockheed Martin UK to examine and scope the recast programme, specifically for Information, Integration and Management requirement.
Responding the Defence Select Committee report on ISTAR the MoD confirmed that Phase 1 of Project SOLOMON will initially deliver a capability to disseminate ISTAR information over the UK Defence Information Infrastructure networks between March 2012 Initial Operating Capability (IOC) and March 2015 Full Operating Capability (FOC). Further improvements will occur when the SOLOMON Phase 2 projects begin to deliver additional capability commencing in 2015.
SOLOMON also includes SCAVENGER, a requirement for a UAV to provide deep and persistent ISTAR beyond the current GA Reaper, obtained under a UOR. Scavenger is therefore a ‘collector’ component of SOLOMON.
The DABINETT concept was thoroughly sound, recognising that collection of observation data was only part of the picture and a coherent joint service analysis and dissemination system was equally as important.
The problem, as ever, was big vision and small trouser. With such an ambitious multi dimensional programme it was depressingly inevitable that it would be starved of funds, changed, re-scoped and generally diluted.
Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have, as with many areas, exposed weaknesses and resulted in a plethora of Urgent Operational Requirements which have equally, played bloody havoc with the main equipment programmes. Urgent Operational Requirements(UORs) to improve the processing and dissemination capabilities have included the Network Geospatial Support UOR has delivered the capability to disseminate geospatial intelligence data and products to users on the UK element of the NATO Secret network via web services; the Intelligence Processing Architecture (IPA) UOR enables the collation, sharing, and dissemination of intelligence data; and the ATTACKER UOR permits the sharing and dissemination of imagery and associated products.
In the National Audit Office Major Projects Report 2010 DABINETT is described as having three phases;
Phase 1: The Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance Information Integration & Management project is the only project in Phase 1 of the Programme. It passed Initial Gate in April 2009. In February 2010 two competitive Assessment Phase contracts were placed (BAe and LM) with preferred bidder selection expected in late 2010.
Phase 2: Phase 2 will provide common Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance enabling services, and implement improvements to Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance information integration, Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance management, and intelligence processing. In February 2010 a decision was taken by the Direct Process and Disseminate Programme Board to divert planned resources from this phase to an Urgent Operational Requirement and other higher priority tasks. This led to a Capability management measure to defer funding for Phase 2 by two years. This has provided an opportunity to re-plan Phases 2 and 3. This re-planning is expected to complete by December 2010
Phase 3: The Deep and Persistent element of Dabinett, previously planned for Phase 3, has been split out from the Direct Process and Disseminate element and will form part of the Air Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance programme. Phase 3 of Dabinett will therefore only consist of the technology refresh activities.
ISTAR fits within the wider Information Superiority (IS) realm.
IS is described by four categories;
Sense: The technologies underpinning IS provide military and civilian personnel with the ability to sense what is occurring locally, in the surrounding region, and beyond. This is achieved by a range of sensor types, including infrared, visible, and radar mounted on a range of different platforms including manned and unmanned systems in all three domains (land, air, and sea), as well as human intelligence.
Understand: Capabilities such as visualization and social network analysis allow the UK’s armed and security forces to begin overcoming the technological challenge of bringing together information derived from a number of sources. These capabilities provide the armed and security forces with a clearer picture o
Share: IS allows the armed and security forces to get the right information, in the right format, to the right person, at the right time. In a modern highly connected world it is difficult to realise the challenges the military faces in communicating in a hostile military environment.
Decide: By strengthening the UK Armed Forces’ ability to collect data, transform this data into a useful and usable form, and communicate this information between services, back to commanders in the UK, and with allies, IS capabilities enable faster and more informed decision-making on the battlefield.
This is a series about the RAF, not joint services ISTAR architecture, but I thought it would be useful to put the ‘collectors’ aspect of DABINETT and SOLOMON into context and see where the pieces join up.
The objectives of SOLOMON seem to be a little unclear and no formal reason for renaming has been released although I suspect it is because of a lack of funding and a descoping of the overarching goals of DABINETT in light of UOR purchases and experience of operations, hopefully, more will become clear in the next few months as the SDSR decisions shake themselves out.
The next post will look at the equipment.
Dabinet, in case you were wondering, is a type of apple
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