Raytheon UK’s new AXON service provides 24/7 mission intelligence

A new centralised Enterprise Operation Centre will offer world-class intelligence services round-the-clock

Traditional intelligence channels are being increasingly augmented with new information sources, such as open-source data and third-party technologies. These offer critical, real-time information across domains. But customers can often find this unmanageable, due to the vast amounts of data generated and the variety of sources and classification levels involved.

Raytheon UK is tackling this challenge by bringing together its expertise in mission intelligence solution services from across the business into one centralised hub. The aim is to help simplify complex information from multiple data sources, respond more efficiently to customer needs, deliver value through timeliness and maintain information superiority. The new AXON Enterprise Operation Centre will support both frontline and backline operations, 24/7, enabling on-demand access to data in real-time.

“Customers need secure on-demand support solutions to manage this complex environment from a single point of entry, thus enabling intelligence analysis to be rapidly shared across domains and issues resolved under time pressures,” said Gillian Dowds, head of Mission Intelligence for Raytheon UK.

Central to AXON’s offering are advanced artificial intelligence, or AI, and machine learning, or ML, technologies and a team of qualified personnel. With expertise in a multitude of skills, they will provide operational support around the clock across all domains and classifications. Dowds believes this is a necessary capability to provide customers with the support they require.

“No matter where our customers deploy troops in the world, or under whatever circumstance or threat level, they’ll have reliable data to make timely, validated and unbiased decisions in real-time,” she said.

Raytheon UK has a history of developing mission intelligence capabilities in the UK, including space intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, special-mission aircraft and national cybersecurity. AXON will support intelligence operations by combining this expertise and complementing it with space domain awareness capabilities from their recent acquisition of UK-based NORSS, a  specialist in orbital analysis, space surveillance and tracking.

Opening doors with OSINT

Open-Source Intelligence, or OSINT, is becoming an essential strategic capability across defence, government and civil domains. However, publicly available data sources raise significant technical and organisational challenges for many customers.

AXON’s service support analysts, data scientists and data engineers will be tasked with filtering, contextualising, connecting and validating data from multiple open sources. This work will be underpinned by advanced AI and ML technologies to manage trust and provide customers with confidence in the data.

“This will be standard for all intelligence, whether monitoring a meteorological satellite for the MET office for their forecasts or providing the frontline with deep meteorological data so they can plan operations to deploy troops under specific circumstances,” Dowds said.

Partnering with third parties and SMEs

The UK Ministry of Defence actively encourages working with small-to-medium sized enterprises, or SMEs, and multiple third parties when it comes to providing cutting-edge intelligence solutions. However, this can pose some challenges.

“SMEs often find barriers to working directly within defence environments; contractual terms, regulatory standards and classification levels can all prove as blockers. They also face support and assurance challenges in the longer term,” said Dowds.

Raytheon UK has a long tenure partnering with SMEs for agile capability adoption that helps them navigate barriers to the defence environment. In the same vein, AXON will effectively create an intelligence SME eco-system and gateway to the sector.

This should benefit those SMEs without a 24/7 support capability that are unable to operate at higher classification levels or require an integration element for their programme applications. These relationships will also be strengthened by Raytheon UK’s adherence to ISO 44000, an internationally recognised framework for collaborative working.

AXON will also feature a large development environment and cloud-based demo suite that will be used to run innovation projects to help steer customers of advanced solutions.

“As AXON grows, we will essentially be able to provide intelligence as a service that includes cloud-based and data management services as well as operational support. The goal is to provide world-class customer service that reduces the burden of going to competition for multiple intelligence programmes because we’ll provide that service expertise across the board,” said Dowds.

This connectivity is the reason Dowds named the service AXON. An axon is a neuron in the body that functions to transmit information to different neurons, muscles and glands. 

“It’s a connector that disseminates information and connects different parts together. That’s initially how our operation centre will function. It will be the heart of all our intelligence gathering and the centre of our programme support. All our data and cloud-based operations will go through this central hub, supporting customers from that one connector,” said Dowds.

The new AXON facility, located in the South-East of England, will go live later in 2023.