COSMOS: A crucial ally in military defense strategies
Strong defense depends on robust and accurate intelligence about other countries' military assets, including their missile systems. Military commanders who need such information rely on intelligence agencies, which, in turn, generate collection requirements based on the needs of decision-makers. Intelligence gatherers have to decide how to collect and sort the information they need — types of intelligence, when intelligence is needed, and in what priority.
Commanders also need to know about potential threats from anti-satellite weapons (ASATs), which can be ground-based missiles launched at satellites, ground-based, high-energy weapons like lasers that can blind or dazzle sensors on satellites, or cause other more damaging effects. Knowing that a missile has been launched, no matter in what corner of the world, and closely tracking it, is critical to U.S. defense interests.
Sensors in intelligence-gathering missions
Sensors play a critical role in such intelligence gathering. A variety of sensors — Electro-Optical, Infrared, Radar, Signals Intelligence, etc. — are usually placed on Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft such as U-2s and Global Hawks to gather information from installations around the world. Unfortunately, deploying sensors as the frontline in intelligence gathering is challenging in a variety of ways:
- First, aircraft have to navigate outside of surface-to-air missile (SAM) engagement zones, so sensing opportunities are already limited.
- Sensors on ISR aircraft also can have a limited window of time within which to do their job.
- Given the complicated nature of sensors and the variety of intelligence jobs to be executed, officials must use equipment judiciously and efficiently.
These challenges place a need for additional assets, some of which are best handled from space.
COSMOS: A proactive modeling tool for sensor deployment
Birthed in the 1980s under Reagan's Star Wars program, Leidos's Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) Space and Missile Operations Simulation (COSMOS) is a suite of modeling tools that allow users to configure and optimize various sensor-platform scenarios and reliably predict corresponding intelligence-gathering or reconnaissance outcomes. Its what-if modeling facilitates more efficient resource allocation and helps users understand what's needed to get the job done.
COSMOS specializes in the Tasking, Collection, Processing, Exploitation, and Dissemination (TCPED) policies that are the backbone of combat and peacetime operations. It enables users to build representations of different types of sensors and place them on the right platform, whether that's a satellite, aircraft, ship, submarine, or ground-based vehicle. COSMOS simulates the processes that occur within these systems and passes the information gathered to a process and analysis chain. The model can provide decision-makers with a large number of insights, including the performance of tracking missiles pre- and post-launch or estimating opposing force dispositions such as the number and type of aircraft that are at an airbase, ground forces in and out of garrison, and naval forces in port or deployed.
How COSMOS helps
In addition to facilitating strategic what-if scenarios, COSMOS helps decision-makers through:
- Global resource allocation: C4ISR asset allocation needs to align with varying intelligence needs. COSMOS helps intelligence officials apportion U2s, Global Hawks, Predators, Reapers, and other types of ISR assets across global regions. It also supports analysis and optimization of satellite constellation configurations and their ability to achieve threshold and objective requirements.
- Granular resource utilization: COSMOS delivers recommendations about how to use each asset: when to fly, which platform from which base for how long to meet collection requirements, and intelligence product needs.
- Test-driving technology improvements: COSMOS helps evaluate new technologies under consideration by intelligence agencies and delivers a reliable cost-benefit analysis for their use. COSMOS can tell users how good the sensors and processing need to be to perform intelligence functions such as missile warning and missile tracking against a variety of COSMOS-generated or customer-generated missile attack scenarios. Intelligence officials can access answers to questions about sensor characteristics such as size, resolution, and sensitivity so they can evaluate the right fit for specific requirements.
- Orchestration of assets: To complete collection requirements, officials must deploy a variety of sensors, each of which has its strengths and limitations. COSMOS enables users to predict which sensor to deploy when and for what reason, so they can orchestrate a smooth intelligence-gathering mission.
The COSMOS advantage
Orchestrating smooth intelligence gathering is only one of the many advantages that COSMOS delivers. Over the past 30 years of its development and deployment, COSMOS has given decision-makers exactly what they need. As the geopolitical landscape changed from the Cold War era, COSMOS has changed with it, evolving from a tool that analyzed missile defense architectures to a growing emphasis on modeling sensors, intelligence processing and analysis, communications, cyber, and other related technologies.
Its established history notwithstanding, COSMOS has been agile enough to change to today's intelligence missions. A few of its many advantages include:
- Ability to tweak fidelity based on time constraints: When time is of the essence — if a crisis is unfolding, if an attack is imminent, or if the performance of a large number of C4ISR assets needs to dynamically be analyzed in an environment such as a large wargame exercise — COSMOS can adjust the modeled level of fidelity of various assets to generate results more quickly. A more deliberate analysis can use higher-fidelity representations available in COSMOS. Users can tweak fidelity against the time available to apply COSMOS in the way best suited to their current needs.
- Animation: Animation visualization tools help users easily see what's happening during the simulation and pin down the strengths and limitations of various assets.
- Interfaces with other systems: COSMOS interacts with other simulations to allow for even broader wargame-like scenarios. Such seamlessness can help in situations where the COSMOS model can simulate "good guy" scenarios with the other models showcasing the "bad guy," all to high fidelity. Being able to interface with other models over time makes COSMOS a nimble asset in the intelligence-gathering arsenal.
The warfighter mission is complex and involves the management and deployment of a vast arsenal of assets. Proactive intelligence gathering is a critical aspect of defense, one that COSMOS helps execute. It's an important part of Leidos's sensor and signal processing capabilities. A robust modeling system that has endured and evolved for 30 years, COSMOS delivers a lot of functional capabilities, different levels of fidelity for different speeds, and several hundred metrics, depending on the type of analysis intelligence officials need.