By the numbers: Is the important ARTEMIS project of the Armed Forces too ambitious to succeed?

In order to take advantage of the applications supported by massive data processing [Big Data] and artificial intelligence [IA]the General Directorate of Armaments launched the ARTEMIS IA program in 2017 [ARchitecture de Traitement et d’Exploitation Massive de l’Information multi-Sources]designed to provide the Ministry of the Armed Forces with a “sovereign” solution for the storage and use of information.

In addition, if such a program does not have the same popularity as other armament projects [SCORPION, porte-avions de nouvelle génération, Rafale, etc], the fact remains that it has capital importance. “Huge data processing is the new force in warfare. It will allow us to make the right decisions”, so “we cannot rely on anyone”, Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said in a visit to Cray concluded during the Seoul Air Force Base.

After an initial competition phase that led to the presentation of the “demonstrator”, ARTEMIS was commissioned by the DGA to Athea, a joint venture between Thales and Atos, with Cap Gemini and Sopra-Steria as subcontractors. But beyond these companies, the program relies on an entire ecosystem of SMEs, start-ups and labs specializing in data processing and artificial intelligence.

So far, the first and second phases of the program have cost 56 million euros. The budget for the third phase has yet to be determined. However, an amount of 300 million euros was prepaid.

Currently, the project is in its second phase, launched in 2019, with the goal of “showcasing the performance of the ARTEMIS platform and its ability to integrate various business use cases through multiple presenters, and to represent the needs of customers. ADS”, recalls Deputy Fabien Gouttefarde , who was the drafter of the Credit Opinion for the “Environment and Prospects of Defense Policy” program [.pdf].

“The intermediate version of the ARTEMIS demonstrator is now being tested in several pilot deployments within the Ministry of the Armed Forces. The ARTEMIS project is the subject of work to optimize and prepare its industrialization in 2021”, continued the MP, noting that the project implementation phase is expected to take place during 2021. Start in 2022.

In total, ARTEMIS foresees six “use cases”. The first, titled “Assisting in exploiting large volumes of, heterogeneous data” should lead to “utilization tools that allow cross-referencing of structured and unstructured data”, thereby providing “utilization tools based on geographic, temporal, relational or statistical criteria”. The second issue concerns cybersecurity, where the challenge is to be able to detect anomalies in “large numbers of recorded events.” The third focus is on “monitoring soldier health” to enhance prevention and care.

Another use case, called “technical and economic intelligence,” promises to facilitate the search and synthesis of information in large volumes of documents. It is also a “tool for developing ocean conditions, utilizing cross-referencing of different data sources”, identifying issues with “behavioral models, including models of anomalies and forecasting future ocean conditions.”Finally, the last case will involve maintenance under operating conditions [MCO]As predictive analytics and fleet management systems evolve [aéronefs et véhicules, ndlr].

Furthermore, ARTEMIS is a complex project with obvious safety requirements. It must “take into account the many peculiarities of the defence world, such as data protection, diversity and levels of classification of networks, management of knowledge needs, access to algorithms and data, by addressing the geographic distribution of data,” concluded Mr Gouttefarde.

In addition, it needs to develop a “trusted platform”, and currently available platforms are from the United States or China. “It is therefore appropriate to provide a platform of French/European confidence in the short to medium term, especially for high-sensitivity systems,” stressed MP.

However, in his report, he questioned himself. “Has the Ministry of Armed Forces been showing excessive ambition for the ARTEMIS project?” he asked. He said the opinions he had gathered were different. However, he noted, “The establishment of a ‘big data processing factory’ seems to be related to data processing and artificial intelligence technologies. This is contradicted by the fact that it develops very regularly”. However, the deputy continued, “Through this program, the Armed Forces are designing a super data analysis system that will only work for 3 years at the earliest, that is, almost All technologies involved will continue to evolve.”

Furthermore, the Rapporteur believes that “instead of developing a single system to analyze all data of the armed forces, the problem could be solved by field of activity, by developing an MCO plan, a program for health data, etc.”.

In addition, Mr. Gouttefarde believes that the Army, Command and Services [ADS] It is likely “to wait a long time before this tool provides the first results”, especially since so far, “no one knows exactly how it will be operationally deployed and how it will integrate with existing systems”. This means that, according to him, “certain departments of the Ministry of Armed Forces have also foreseen a possible delay in implementation as they tend to use internal tools immediately”.

One of the difficulties is that ARTEMIS has to be connected to the information system [SI] already in place. “The integration of the ARTEMIS project into the existing IS is at the heart of the problem: we must constantly seek to integrate new projects into the pre-existing ecosystem”, admits the Directorate General for Digital and Information and Communication Systems [DGNUM].

While he doesn’t question the merits of the ARTEMIS project, Mr Gouttefarde still wonders about “the digital ambitions of certain iconic projects of the Ministry of the Armed Forces”. Thus, he continued, “If the intellectual appeal of the project is beyond doubt, [il] Emphasizes that there is often a large gap between theory and practice in the field, especially with regard to the various and numerous IS within the ministry, and that if a project is pursued solely for dogmatism, if it proves to be ineffective, it will A regrettable and inappropriate character.”

Photo: ATOS

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