Raytheon bets on open-architecture in its new DCGS intelligence analysis platform

Raytheon unveiled its commercial replacement for the services’ distributed common ground system.

With Raytheon’s new battle management platform, FoXTEN, the company hopes an open architecture and cybersecurity assurance measures at all levels of the battlefield will overcome past questions into the performance of its predecessor in the field.

The company unveiled the system on Monday at the Association of the United States Army’s annual conference. The initial contract target of the platform is the Army’s October 31st request for proposals to improve upon its distributed common ground system (DCGS). Raytheon, which built the initial iteration of DCGS, has developed FoXTEN as a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) platform which leverages the lessons learned in the development of its predecessor. DCGS is presently used by the Army, Navy, Air Force, and special operations forces communities as an integrated hardware and software system for intelligence analysis.

The platform, and its earlier, limited expansion as DCGS-Lite for the special operations community, has faced some criticism. In 2015, the Associated Press reported that some soldiers in the special operations community were lobbying to replace DCGS in their respective units with Palantir, a Silicon Valley competitor started in 2004 by Peter Thiel. At the time of the report, higher leaders in the Army argued that DCGS, and DCGS-Lite in particular, included additional capabilities that Palantir didn’t. The Army’s official policy at the time was to approve all requests for the Palantir system while the special operations community approved requests for use on a case-by-case basis.

With FoXTEN, Raytheon hopes to expand the capabilities of DCGS through a framework that allows for other members of the defense industry and the military to interact with their platform. The platform, whose initial capabilities for the October 31st contract are geared for the battalion level and lower, acts as a central, visual hub for a variety of intelligence applications with a developer toolkit, cyber resiliency measures, and upgrades as technology advances. Raytheon hopes that its institutional knowledge, those security measures, and the open architecture will serve as motivating factors when the call for RFPs is closed. The technology is a commercial procurement, and Raytheon hopes coalition partners will also integrate the technology into their intelligence analysis processes. With its open architecture, the company also moved away from Oracle licenses, a primary cost component in DCGS.

The first “capability drop” of the FoXTEN platform will include technology that can be used from the battalion command level down to those deployed in the field. In order to ensure soldiers in the field don’t find themselves without the platform, Raytheon has developed FoXTEN to include both disconnected and low latency features which can function at 22 kilobytes per second with 33% packet loss and 300 millisecond latency, ensuring that technology even lower than field radios can effectively transmit data.