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Warfare 2.0: AI for Situational Awareness

Learnings from Israel and Ukraine on advancing network-centric operations

Recent conflicts prove situational awareness as a powerful force multiplier 

GPS interference highlights vulnerabilities across devices and systems

Safeguard network-centric operations with an assured PNT ecosystem

In an era of electronic warfare (EW), integrated and real-time command and control is the greatest force multiplier U.S. and allied militaries can have. This makes reliable sources of situational awareness crucial for any form of tactical environment. Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) provide a foundation for this through Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) for warfighters and their autonomous systems. 

However, recent conflicts in Ukraine and Israel have highlighted new and emerging threats to GNSS-based networks. When positional awareness is denied or uncertain, this ability to effectively integrate and coordinate friendly forces effectively vanishes. This article highlights the pivotal role artificial intelligence (AI) can play in overcoming GNSS interference and why alternative PNT sources will be crucial to the future of network-centric operations.  

Situational awareness on today’s frontlines 

The first conflict in Europe for a generation, the war in Ukraine has shown the impact of a situational awareness advantage. Initially outnumbered in almost every field – the Ukraine Armed Forces (UAF) rapidly developed its situational awareness capabilities at the onset of Russia’s illegal invasion. Low-cost devices ranging from consumer-grade smartphones to recreational drones have been central to this success. 

Delta COP – the UAF’s operating system – went live in the summer of 2022. Within weeks, troops were using it in the field to confirm upwards of 1,500 targets a day. By November 2022, the UAF had leveraged its easy-to-deploy operating picture to force Russia’s retreat from the city of Kherson – perhaps the most important turning point in the war so far. 

In stark contrast, Russia saw a near-total ‘breakdown of communications’ on the frontline. Their information systems have been historically siloed and coveted by higher commanders – a practice that Ukraine tried to ‘wean itself off’ in the years leading up to the invasion. 

Severely lacking in accurate operational insights, a RUSI report highlights three compounding failures in Russia’s strategy:  

  1. Siloed operating systems would not show discrepancies between data, such as PNT for friendly and adversarial forces. 
  2. Troops would take the information they were given as true and not verify sources.
  3. A fear of reprisals meant failures were not reported upward – leaving higher commanders with an unrealistic picture of the situation on the ground. 

The lessons learned from the aggregated impact of these strategic shortcomings triggered investments in military reform of Russia’s SA technologies early last year, under which their C2 capabilities have significantly improved. 

GNSS as a single point of failure

The same report also points towards GNSS interference as being a key disruptor in both sides' efforts to establish SA. Eighteen months on, reports of jamming, spoofing, and planned cyber attacks are daily updates in the region. Jamming bubbles now cover hundreds, if not thousands, of kilometres around tactical cities.  

Electronic Warfare (EW) has extended to every kind of operation – and so far, Russia has retained an advantage in its use. Reports even point to their EW capabilities being able to send US-supplied JDAM missiles off course – once thought to be almost entirely resilient to jamming. 

But it’s unmanned aerial systems (UAS) that have borne the brunt of Russia’s EW efforts. In their initial counteroffensive, 90% of drones deployed by the UAF were grounded, surviving for an average of just three flights. Today, losses still run at up to 2,000 a week.

In a cat-and-mouse response, Ukraine has improved its own ability to ground Russian drones using Lithuanian-manufactured Skywipers. At times, these have proven so successful that Russian opposition forces have set out to capture them

In the Middle East, reports point towards a similar electronic ‘arms race’. First used by Hamas in their October attack, the IDF has taken steps to increase its own jamming capacity in the face of drone attacks.

But it's the estimated 300 miles of complex tunnel networks under Gaza that have rendered GNSS most obsolete. Within a 141 square mile strip, Hamas has equipped itself with a tactical advantage from air, ground, and underground, against which drones and surveillance technologies have had little success navigating and mapping. Posing such a high operational risk, Israel has been forced to consider solutions as extreme as flooding the entire complex.  

“The unit in the tunnels has every advantage: awareness, speed, intelligence, ability to withdraw. This is a war in a phone booth." – Col. Joe Buccino (Ret.), U.S. Army

Both conflicts highlight the compounding impact of GNSS-denied environments. Every successful attempt to disrupt geolocation networks is not only damaging in isolation but aggregates to erode broader situational awareness.

APNT for warfighters and their systems 

The lessons from both Ukraine and Israel are being carefully noted at home. For the United States and its allies, renewed efforts to bolster situational awareness are underway. Assured Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (APNT) will be a crucial part of this. 

Equipping warfighters and their autonomous systems for this recent rise in EW threats has required a widespread rethink of the alternative PNT playbook. As current conflicts show, conventional methods of preventing both GNSS jamming – and the tactics used by adversaries to evade detection – are falling short in this new era of electronic warfare. 

Many existing solutions mitigate or ‘cancel out’ the effects of GPS jamming through nulling, beamforming, and excisioning. They typically need further hardware, making them unsuitable for dismounted users, who already carry a heavy equipment load. Additional software interfaces can also make them difficult to use in the field – where warfighters rely on the operating systems that they are most familiar with and only those absolutely critical to mission success. 

There are further challenges when it comes to securing APNT for small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS). Existing anti-jamming solutions are often extremely costly, while smaller Class 1 drones remain comparatively attritable, as witnessed in Ukraine.

In Numbers: Drones in Ukraine

To address this deployment gap, the U.S. Army’s APNT Cross-Functional Team (CFT) and other military entities have been extensively testing novel equipment over the past year and are turning to the software industry for solutions that can be rapidly developed and deployed at scale. 

Their efforts will be vital in safeguarding the United States’ network-centric operations (NCO). Today, NCO serves as the basis of modern U.S. situational awareness capabilities – providing operational users with the multivariate sensor data they need to make tactical decisions at the edge. 

Faced with an invasion, Ukraine put this same philosophy at the heart of its defensive strategy with Delta COP. It immediately reaped the benefits, while Russia is also looking to strengthen its own NCO capabilities through its further military reforms. 

Navigate for Assured Positioning, Navigation, and Timing

Amid heightened use of jamming and spoofing, Navigate – Pendulum's AI-powered solution for APNT – is designed not only to operate independently of GPS but also within a warfighter's existing suite of equipment. It combines data from devices such as smartphones and wearables alongside additional absolute sources like elevation maps.

Navigate can ensure APNT to within 30-50 meters per kilometre traveled, making it a crucial asset for group situational awareness in GPS-denied environments. It integrates with the Android Team Awareness Kit (ATAK) – the geospatial awareness application used by U.S. warfighters – and perhaps their most trusted source of situational awareness in the field.

It does not require additional hardware and has been developed to perform in low-computational environments on familiar and trusted consumer-grade devices. This not only makes it suitable for individual use on deployment but also pivotal in safeguarding the United States’ broader NCO ecosystem in GPS-denied environments.

Navigate as a force multiplier

Navigate serves as an alternative source of PNT when conventional GNSS positioning is compromised. In November, Pendulum announced R&D efforts to integrate Navigate with handheld drones as part of an agreement with the U.S. Air Force – a crucial step in building UAVs' resilience against growing GNSS jamming threats, which as the war in Ukraine has shown, is where they are most vulnerable.

These small, low-cost devices have been described as the ‘future of warfare’ – and Ukraine plans to purchase a further one million of them this year. At home, this should make the imperative to equip Class 1 UAS with an effective form of assured PNT ever more pressing.

Pendulum’s R&D efforts will look to take the technology beyond dismounted users to unmanned devices for the first time – and stand to offer an easy-to-deploy, scalable, and affordable solution that serves as a critical fallback in the absence of GNSS. 

Pendulum Navigate compared with GPS in an environment subject to jamming

Individual APNT for warfighters and their autonomous systems is an important first step in creating a more robust SA ecosystem. But to be an effective force multiplier, awareness of where other friendly forces are is just as critical.  

Navigate’s future availability on drones also follows partnerships that Pendulum signed with the United States AFRL and Special Operation Command earlier this year to further integrate our software into wearables, such as smartwatches, phones, and other consumer-grade devices. This will ensure APNT remains within ‘arms’ reach’ of warfighters – and on the interfaces with which they are most familiar.

By rapidly expanding the number and range of devices that Navigate is available on, Pendulum is laying the groundwork for a robust and resilient solution for group situational awareness in GPS-denied environments. 

With adversaries increasingly taking to these very locations for a tactical advantage, the need for a multimodal, interconnected device ecosystem is clear. 

Navigate can collect, store, and visualize this PNT sensor data to map these signal-denied environments – for improved situational awareness in current and future operations.

With its APNT capabilities leveraging machine learning – the greater number of devices Navigate becomes available on also bolsters the overall accuracy of this offline ecosystem. This will make it a powerful force multiplier for edge environments, especially when compared with other anti-jamming solutions. 

A collaborative, connected ecosystem that aggregate this APNT data from personal devices, UAVs, and ground vehicles will provide a crucial alternative source of group situational awareness in environments where GPS is a single point of failure. Securely integrating within a warfighter’s existing device ecosystem, these future R&D efforts have the potential to dramatically improve operational outcomes in signal-denied environments.

PNT for tomorrow, learning from the conflicts of today

Developments in Ukraine and Israel have shown how electronic warfare and GPS-evasion tactics are changing the landscape of modern conflicts. An absence of reliable PNT systematically erodes group SA – with profound implications. 

As adversarial efforts to interrupt and evade conventional geolocation efforts continue to grow, the APNT playbook needs to be rewritten to ensure U.S. forces maintain a tactical advantage.

Navigate will be a crucial tool to safeguard NCO in these GPS-denied environments and ensure warfighters have the software they need to perform in the face of new and emerging challenges. 

If you’d like to learn more about Navigate or Pendulum, please send an email to

About Pendulum

Pendulum is an AI company that optimizes critical supply and demand networks. We make ubiquitous systems more intelligent, maximizing the impact of resources available. Pendulum products are deployed via APIs that navigate, predict demand, and optimize supply  - continuously and autonomously improving on their own.

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