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WIDOW: Bridging Operational Gap Between Air Force and Navy

3 min read

For the first time, Naval Aviation units embarked at sea and Air Force units based on land were able to plan collaboratively and in real time. This was made possible during Northern Edge 21 by the WIDOW mission planning software developed by BrainGu.

Aircraft Carrier in Alaska

The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) transits the Gulf of Alaska after participating in exercise Northern Edge 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Erick A. Parsons)

For two weeks in May, over 10,000 service members across all branches of the armed services gathered in Alaska to participate in Northern Edge 2021 — a training ground for large scale, multi-domain operations. Coordinating over 300 aircraft covering upwards of 60,000 square miles of airspace is no easy feat, and this is where WIDOW stepped up to the challenge optimizing planning tasks to enable warfighters to focus on tactics and enhancing lethality.

WIDOW demonstrated at WSINT that a collaborative environment enables warfighters to optimize planning tasks between receipt of the Air Tasking Order and mission execution. These extra hours are invaluable to refine tactics and enhance lethality.

Operators on USS Makin Island, USS Theodore Roosevelt, and at Eielson AFB, Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson, and many outlying stations all planned collaboratively in real time — the first time this has been accomplished across branches. WIDOW builds products like Communication Flows, Tanker Plans, and Altitude Blocks that were previously slowly developed by sending files back and forth over email. Initially skeptical Naval Aviators communicated how impressed they were of the quality of the software and how big of an advantage it was to be able to see missions planned in real time on the carriers, and not be in the dark until the last moment.

WIDOW is hosted on DoD Platform One, which allows BrainGu to develop and release upgrades at the speed of relevance on NIPR, SIPR, and JWICS. BrainGu had a number of engineers onsite during the exercise interfacing directly with operators to gain real-time feedback and often deployed the requested changes within a day or two. Over the course of Northern Edge, the BrainGu team implemented over 60 upgrades that were pushed to SIPR daily thanks to the CI/CD pipeline powered by DoD Platform One.

BrainGu is a cutting-edge software innovation lab with a strong mission focus that supports operators across the DoD. BrainGu partnered with the USAF in order to produce the Web-based Information Dominant Warfare (WIDOW) Mission Planning Software within only five weeks. In the year since its inception, WIDOW has planned hundreds of missions, coordinated over a thousand assets, supported 6 large scale exercises, and been designated the official USAF Mission Planning Cell Tool.

Who Is BrainGu?

BrainGu is a cutting-edge software innovation lab that dreams of, incubates, and scales technology that is dedicated to advancing our customers' mission. For us, developing software is job number one. We combine critical analysis, creativity, and technology to solve problems. Our goal is to develop mission-critical solutions built on the latest DevSecOps & Cloud Native innovations.

The solutions we build and deploy improve outcomes for the operators and end-users by automating the most time-consuming and error-prone aspects of their workflows. Our customers realize the kinds of change that finish tasks in days, not weeks, at a volume of thousands, not hundreds.

We focus on clean and well-documented interfaces for both humans and machines. Our data-centric approach to optimizing artificial intelligence and machine learning through well-defined schemas allows efficient reuse of components across highly scalable technology stacks.

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