High Accuracy Detection and Exploitation System (HADES)
The Pentagon’s focus is back to competing with powerful and sophisticated militaries, forcing sweeping changes in modernization priorities. For the Army’s intelligence branch, the technology priority has shifted from technology that can identify radio-frequency triggers for improvised explosive devices to electronic receivers that can eavesdrop on communications between an adversary’s headquarters and field units, along with long-range radars that can detect mobile, high-value targets for a new class of surface-to-surface missiles with ranges far beyond the Army’s current 185-miile limit.
The newly developed High Accuracy Detection and Exploitation System (HADES) payload would provide many of the same onboard capabilities, but from a higher vantage point, extending the range of the Army’s most sophisticated electronic eavesdropping equipment, along with a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) that can track moving targets on the ground. As planned, the Army’s future AISR aircraft will match the performance of the Air Force’s RC-135 and retiring E-8C but with a payload that performs the functions of both.
In Greek mythology, of all the major Olympian God, Hades, the ruler of the underworld, was the only one who didn’t live on Mount Olympus. The word Hades is associated with the pictures drawn by Homer, Virgil, and the Greek tragedians, a land of utter silence and of utter darkness. The Homeric Hades contains all the dead without distinction, good and evil, just and unjust. There were several sections of the realm of Hades, including Elysium, the Asphodel Meadows, and Tartarus. The Iliad distinguishes between Hades, the domain of the god Hades, and Tartarus, which is also situated in the depths of the earth, but much lower down. In part of Hades the righteous souls are supposed to dwell apart from the wicked The wicked, “ They spend their days in wealth, and in. a moment go down to Hades."
Hermes, the guide of the dead, brings to Pluto's kingdom their psyches, “that gibber like bats, as they fare down the dank ways, past the streams of Okeanos, past the gates of the sun and the land of dreams, to the meadow of asphodel in the dark realm of Hades, where dwell the souls, the phantoms of men outworn.” So begins the twentyfourth book of the Odyssey. Later poets have Charon, a grim boatsman, receive the dead at the River of Woe; he ferries them across, provided the passage money has been placed in their mouths, and their bodies have been duly buried in the world above. Otherwise they are left to gibber on the hither bank. Pluto's house, wide-gated, thronged with guests, has a janitor Kerberos, sometimes friendly, sometimes snarling when new guests arrive, but always hostile to those who would depart. Honey cakes are provided for them that are about to go to Hades — the sop to Cerberus. This dog, nameless and undescribed, Homer mentions simply as the dog of Hades, whom Herakles, as the last and chief test of his strength, snatched from the horrible house of Hades. First Hesiod and next Stesichorus discover the dog's name to be Kerberos.
The Greek Hades, the Latin infernus (inferum, inferi), and the Hebrew sheol correspond to the word hell, formed from the Anglo-Saxon helan or behelian, "to hide". Haides, formed from the root fid, to see, and a privative, denotes an invisible, hidden, and dark place; thus it is similar to the term hell. Hades was a place in which the souls both of the righteous and the unrighteous were detained, but not in the same place. In the Old Testament (Septuagint hades; Vulgate infernus) sheol is used quite in general to designate the kingdom of the dead, of the good (Genesis 37:35) as well as of the bad (Numbers 16:30). But, as the limbo of the Fathers ended at the time of Christ's Ascension, hades (Vulgate infernus) in the New Testament always designates the hell of the damned. Since Christ's Ascension the just no longer go down to the lower world, but they dwell in heaven (2 Corinthians 5:1).
The Multi-Domain Sensing System (MDSS) is intended to address the Army’s deep sensing requirement by providing platform agnostic sensors that support Multi-Domain Operations (MDO), including Large Scale Ground Combat Operations, and fill sensing gaps for Indicators and Warnings, Long-Range Precision Fire targeting and Situational Understanding. MDSS requirements focus on six capability areas: Platforms; Sensors; Integrated Intelligence, Fires, Electronic Warfare, Cyber and Mission Command; Processing, Exploitations, and Dissemination (PED); Data Transport; and Cyber and Electromagnetic Spectrum (EMS) Resiliency.
HADES is part of the overarching Army MDSS system of systems and will provide multiple sensing capabilities by developing and integrating sensor capabilities on different platforms that as a system will comprise a survivable sensing suite in MDO. These will allow stand-off operations to detect, locate, identify and track critical targets for the ground commander. Presently, sensor priorities for HADES are focused on Electronic Intelligence (ELINT), Communications Intelligence (COMINT), and Radio Assisted Detection and Ranging (RADAR). In 2020, the Army started searching for a new intelligence-gathering Aerial Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (AISR) aircraft, which would be equipped with the new High-Accuracy Detection Exploitation System. The Army wanted a “business-jet-class” aircraft that can reach at least 41,000 ft., or 64% above the service ceiling of the de Havilland Dash 8-Q315 EO-5C Airborne Reconnaissance Low-Multifunction (ARL-M), which replaces the Dash 7-derived EO-5 fleet starting in 2021.
If the Army’s High Accuracy Detection and Exploitation System (HADES) program proceeds as planned, a small fleet of fewer than 10 large derivatives of a commercial aircraft — potentially, a P-8, Gulfstream G550-derived C-37 or Bombardier Global 6000-based E-11 — could be fielded by around fiscal 2028, performing a mission that combines many of the capabilities of the E-8C J-Stars and signals-intelligence-gathering RC-135 Rivet Joint.
The program revived and expanded the concept for the Aerial Common Sensor (ACS), which attempted to package an advanced, multi-intelligence gathering payload integrated by Lockheed Martin onto the Embraer 145 regional jet. But the sensor package proved to be more than 40% heavier than the payload limit of the ERJ-145, which forced the Army to cancel the $879 million engineering and manufacturing development program for the ACS in January 2006. Over the next decade, the Army’s priorities for the fixed-wing intelligence fleet shifted to supporting counterterrorist and counterinsurgent operations.
China and Russia have displayed anti-radiation missiles with ultra-long range, presenting a perfect weapon against a derivative of a commercial airliner or business jet with a radiating sensor. Despite the rising threat, the Army is not particularly worried about the relevance or survivability of such an aircraft.
The U.S. Air Force chose to cancel the $6.9 billion J-Stars Recap program citing the Joint Stars fleet’s vulnerability to projected advances in adversary air defense technology after 2025. After all, if the Air Force doubted the ability of a commercial aircraft derivative to perform the Northrop Grumman E-8C’s ground-surveillance mission, how long could similar aircraft in the Defense Department’s fleet — such as the Navy’s Boeing 737-derived P-8A or the Air Force’s own Boeing RC-135 — expect to continue operating with a reasonable chance of survival? The new HADES program emerging within the Army’s airborne intelligence branch raised the question again.
A critical factor in the Air Force’s decision to cancel the J-Stars Recap involved the range of the sensor. The APY-7 radar on the E-8C has a listed range of more than 96 mi. Russia advertizes the 40N6 interceptor in the S-400 air defense system, which has been exported to China, with a 400-km (250-mi.) range. If an aircraft such as the E-8C must be stationed beyond the range of the 40N6 or the 40N6e export version, the APY-7 radar would be unable to see into enemy territory.
The Army might be deploying other capabilities of a platform like this, such as air-launched effects. Air-launched effects (ALE) refers to a broad range of systems in development. Recoverable ALEs are essentially air-launched unmanned aircraft systems. Disposable ALEs represent munitions or nonkinetic systems such as decoys and jammers. If deployable ALEs become part of the AISR requirement, the manned aircraft could act as a mothership and preserve a capability to operate in the presence of long-range anti-radiation missiles. When the risk is high, operators probably would fly in a way where it’s going to maintain a safe distance and still be able to do its job.
The high-altitude AISR also is expected to perform other roles. Along with the smaller, King Air-derived RC-12, the EO-5 fleet maintains a vigilant presence on the Korean Peninsula, for example. The aircraft perform routine patrols, developing an electronic “pattern of life” of North Korean military emitters such as radars, communications systems and jammers.
Responsibility for the AISR acquisition is divided within the Army acquisition system. The program executive officer for aviation is responsible for acquiring the aircraft, a process that will begin in fiscal 2022 or 2023. Keller’s office is directing the acquisition process for HADES, the sensor payload. A fly-off to compare the capabilities of the companies seeking to supply the HADES package is scheduled for next year.
As the acquisition unfolds, the Army is seeking to avoid the same errors that doomed the ACS program 14 years earlier. The two key lessons it had drawn from the ACS experience are to be careful about how much authority to give the contractor over the aircraft and sensor integration process, and to select an aircraft with plenty of spare capacity. In the ACS program the Army gave the contractor full authority to pick the airframe and all the sensors. The Army had issues with size, weight, power and cooling. And then when the Army tried to make some adjustments on the concept of operations, it didn’t get a lot of support from the contractor. The Army learned a lot of hard lessons that way. Those lessons were not lost on the Army, and it is making sure to pick a platform that has margin and the ability to grow.
On 01 November 2019 Program Manager Sensors-Aerial Intelligence (PM SAI), with their stakeholder partners, hosted an Industry Day for the High Accuracy Detection Exploitation System (HADES) - Multi-Doman Sensor System (MDSS) program at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. The purpose of this Industry Day was to provide industry partners with information regarding HADES requirements, contracting approach, to answer questions from industry, and to receive feedback from industry to assess maturity and performance of the desired sensors.
On 13 April 2020 the Project Manager Sensors-Aerial Intelligence (PM SAI) issued a Request for Information [RFI] W56KGY-20-R-MDSS from industry on existing technologies and Non-Developmental Items (NDIs) that could satisfy the Multi-Domain Sensing System (MDSS) High Accuracy Detection and Exploitation System (HADES) requirements. This RFI is specifically looking for information on ELINT, COMINT, and RADAR sensor technologies. In response to this RFI, PM SAI is seeking industry information on currently available/NDI solutions capable of addressing or capable of being upgraded/enhanced to address MDSS Sensor Requirements (Attachments 1, 3) as well as planning input for a Sensor Fly-off event (Attachment 2) in Fiscal Year 21 to validate industry defined capabilities, sensor maturity, and development risk. Development timelines to upgrade or enhance existing sensors to address requirements ideally would not exceed a 12 month timeframe and then lead to limited production. The intent of this RFI is to gather information on state-of-the-art ELINT, COMINT, and/or RADAR sensor capabilities that could be integrated on a platform to meet the MDSS requirement. This is not an aircraft evaluation. The planned Sensor Fly-off event is solely meant to evaluate sensor performance and limitations, not aircraft performance.
The Army’s funding for AISR, however, remained uncertain. The Joint Requirements Oversight Council approved the initial capabilities document for the service’s Multi-Domain Sensor System (MDSS) concept, which includes the AISR fleet as the most near-term priority. Follow-on plans include an Army-operated satellite constellation in low Earth orbit and stratospheric airships. The Army requested only about $50 million in the fiscal 2021 budget for the MDSS, requiring significant new investment in the service’s fiscal 2022 spending request.
On 15 June 2021 the U.S. Army Project Director for Sensors – Aerial Intelligence (PD SAI) entered into Other Transaction Authority (OTA) agreements on June 11, 2021 through the Consortium for Command, Control, and Communications in Cyberspace (C5) to engage L-3 Communications Integrated Systems and Raytheon Applied Signal Technology. The initial award is for Phase 1 of a Multi-Domain Sensing System (MDSS) program to demonstrate, develop, build, and integrate prototype electronic intelligence (ELINT) and communications intelligence (COMINT) sensors onto the High Accuracy Detection and Exploitation System (HADES), the Army’s next generation airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) system. This competitive first phase of a multi-phased OTA prototype project will demonstrate the vendors’ sensors under controlled conditions, leading to Phase 2 in which one or more vendors will further develop and build their sensors specifically for the HADES platform. Phase 3 will then provide for a holistic COMINT/ELINT system to be flight tested and success criteria determined for further production. The value of the Phase 1 prototype project is expected to be $4.37 million over an eight month period of performance. The overall value of the OTA prototype project is expected to total approximately $49 million over all phases.
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