Editor’s Notes

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{FINAL COTS10 Comms and Net Jeff Lead.doc 4 page lead (3 pages plus 1 opening spread page) by Jeff for Special Feature: Communications and Networking for a Net-centric Military for October COTS Journal.}
Editor’s Notes:
1. Figure 3 should be redrawn.
Stakes Rise for Military Comms and Networking
Ranging from military satellites to mobile ground-based platforms, the reliance on military communications programs keeps getting stronger. Technology solutions are falling into place to feed system developer needs.
Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief
Communications and networking remain a critical part of the technology demands of today’s U.S. military. There are a number of influences raising the stakes of those needs. On one hand there’s the reality that a reduced-sized military will need to increase its situational awareness capabilities, and that increases in collecting, sharing and displaying of information feeds into that trend. And with the shift to an Asia-Pacific defense strategy, the area to be covered is large and complex making efficient information sharing all the more vital. The “sharing” portion of that demands directly on communications and networking infrastructure in the military. This feeds into the ongoing transformation towards network-centric operations.
The technologies involved in these efforts enable a growing array of capabilities enabled by an interconnected network of sensors, shooters, command, control and intelligence. The focus is on joint architectures and roadmaps for integrating joint airborne networking capabilities with the evolving ground, maritime and space networks. It encompasses the development of technologies like gateways, waveforms, network management and information assurance. Defense communications technologies such as tactical radios and military satellite and network-centric communications are the key technologies driving this transition. Delivering the compute power for those platforms are next generation embedded solutions in the form of single board computers, box-level systems and special-function subsystems. Together they’re being used to craft compute-intensive radio and network nodes—each one designed for particular environments and warfighting platforms.
Satellite Comms Advances
Efforts to build sophisticated satellite-based military communications and networking capabilities have been continuous over the past several years. Such programs typically entail groups of satellites, many already launched and operating. Generally speaking, the first two satellites of a new system are purchased with Research, Development, Test & Evaluation (RDT&E) funding while the rest of the satellites are purchased with procurement funding. The Air Force is continuing approaches to maximize efficient satellite and launch vehicle acquisitions. These approaches include using block buys and fixed-price contracting to stabilize requirements, and promoting a stable RDT&E investment for evolutionary growth. Major program underway include Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF)-5, AEHF-6, Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO)-5 and GEO-6, the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) and the Wideband Global Satellite Communications (SATCOM) (WGS) system.
Reliable AEHF Network
For its part, the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) provides the most secure communications satellite system used by the U.S. government. Its jam-resistant communications are resilient against enemy forces, including nuclear attack, and a single AEHF satellite provides greater capacity than its compatible legacy five-satellite Milstar system (Figure 1). AEHF’s five-fold increase in data rates speed up protected communications, such as real-time video, battlefield maps and targeting data.
The AEHF program is moving forward and integration of the fourth AEHF began earlier this year. The propulsion core manufactured by Lockheed Martin and payload produced by Northrop Grumman were both delivered significantly ahead of baseline schedule. AEHF-4, expected to launch in 2017, will enable the constellation to reach full operational capability.
Lockheed Martin is under contract to deliver six AEHF satellites and the mission control segment. Users are testing AEHF-1, AEHF-2 and AEHF-3 on orbit, and the fourth satellite will enable the system to reach full operational capability. The fifth and sixth satellites will add to the capacity of the operational system and are being assembled at Lockheed Martin. In a key milestone, earlier this year the third Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite began transmitting using its protected communications payload, joining two other satellites undergoing system test in orbit with a suite of user terminals.
MUOS: as Easy as Cell Phone Call
Another key satellite system is the U.S. Navy's Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) system. It is a next-generation narrowband tactical satellite communications system designed to significantly improve ground-to-satellite-to-ground communications for all U.S. military and government personnel located anywhere on Earth. Using a ten-digit phone number similar in function to those used by civilians with smartphones, the MUOS satellite communications network will provide a 16-fold increase in transmission throughput over the current Ultra High Frequency (UHF) satellite system. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor on the MUOS program.
This summer General Dynamics C4 Systems successfully demonstrated that the AN/PRC-155 two-channel Manpack radios closed a 2,000-mile communications gap between Phoenix, Ariz., and a second set of users in Taunton, Mass. The successful 2,000-mile transmission of the PRC-155 Manpack radio channels bridged the Line of Sight Rifleman Radio and Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS) radio communications to orbiting Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellites. The demo showed that dismounted Soldiers, separated by thousands of miles, can use the PRC-154A Rifleman handheld radios and connect through PRC-155 Manpack radios at the platoon level and below (Figure 2). Basically soldiers can talk to another and share data with the ease of that civilians use their cell phones.
Wideband Comms in Space
For wideband networking, the DoD is developing the Wideband Global Satellite Communications (SATCOM) (WGS) system—planned to consist of an eight satellite constellation in geosynchronous orbit providing worldwide communication coverage for tactical and fixed users. Dual-frequency WGS satellites augment, then replace the Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) X-band frequency service and augments the one-way Global Broadcast Service (GBS) Ka-band frequency capabilities. Additionally, the WGS provides a new high capacity two-way Ka-band frequency service. Each satellite features the following capabilities: X-band: 8 transmit/receive spot-beams via steerable phased-array antennas; one Earth coverage beam and Ka-band: 10 gimbaled dish antennas.
In the summer of 2013 the sixth Boeing WGS was launched to orbit boosting communications capabilities for the U.S. military and its allies. Four additional WGS satellites are in production in El Segundo under the program’s Block II follow-on contract. WGS-8 and beyond will include an upgraded digital channelizer, which will increase the satellite’s bandwidth by more than 90 percent (Figure 3). In a test Boeing successfully sent a government-developed, protected signal through the sixth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS-6) satellite. Engineers confirmed that the signal met all targets for accuracy and strength. The demonstration follows a successful transmission of data over the ViaSat-1 commercial satellite, showing that the technology offers an affordable option for enhancing anti-jam communications using existing commercial and U.S. government satellites and terminals. The signal was sent using a commercial modem that ViaSat modified with anti-jamming features.
Ground-based Communications
Getting back to the Earth-bound side of military communications, the major programs here include JTRS and WIN-T. The JTRS Program of Record(s) was transitioned to a Military Department-management program in 2013. The former Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) was a joint Department of Defense (DoD) effort to develop, produce, integrate, test and field a family of software-defined, secure, multichannel, digital radios that are be interoperable with existing radios and increase communication and networking capabilities for mobile and fixed sites. The program encompassed ground, airborne, vehicular, maritime and small form fit variants of the radio hardware; 15 waveforms for porting into the JTRS hardware; and network management applications.
Now under the general category of Tactical Networking Radio Systems, FY 2015 budget funds include the Army’s Low Rate Initial Production of the Handheld, Manpack and Small Form Fit (HMS) Non-Developmental Item hardware and software, and the qualification and operational testing and sustainment of fielded radios and certified waveforms. The budget request funds the development efforts associated with Army waveforms and Joint Enterprise Network Manager (JENM), and the Small Airborne Link-16 Terminal (SALT) intended for fielding to the AH-64 Apache. Funds continue operational testing, platform integration and initial sustainment support for the Mid-Tier Networking Vehicular Radio (MNVR) program.
WIN-T Makes Production Advances
On the vehicle side of comms and networking, The Army’s Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) forms the center-piece for the Army’s high-speed, high-capability backbone communications network, linking Warfighters in the battlefield with the Global Information Grid. The network is intended to provide command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The system is developed as a network for reliable, secure and seamless video, data, imagery and voice services for the warfighters in the theater to enable decisive combat actions.
The WIN-T program development consists of four increments. Increment 1 (Inc 1) provides “networking at the halt” by upgrading the Joint Network Node (JNN) satellite capability to access the Ka-band defense Wideband Global Satellite (WGS). Increment 2 (Inc 2) provides networking on-the-move and delivers the network to the company level. Increment 3 (Inc 3) provides Integrated Network Operations development. Increment 4 (Inc 4) provides protected satellite communications on-the-move.
A lot of deployment and development activity is planned for WIN-T in FY 2015. The budget funds the upgrade of 81 WIN-T Inc 1 units with Modification kits to enhance interoperability with units fielded with WIN-T Inc 2. Also funded is the procurement of WIN-T Inc 2 for one Brigade Combat Team and one Division. The Army will continue fielding and support for previously procured Low Rate Initial Production equipment. Support is planned for Development Testing that leads to a Follow-on Test and Evaluation in 1st quarter FY 2015.
The Budget Request also funds development of Network Operations software (Build 4) as part of WIN-T Inc 3. Integration will be supported for 179 Modification kits for the AN/TRC-190 line of sight radio systems. The plan is to also procure and field Tactical NetOps Management Systems to 48 non-WIN-T units, along with program management support for Single Shelter Switch (SSS), High-Capability Line of Sight, Battlefield Video-Teleconferencing Center, and Troposcatter Communications systems upgrades.
Boeing Integrated Defense Systems
St. Louis, MO
(314) 232-0232
General Dynamics C4 Systems
Scottsdale, AZ.
(480) 441-3033
Lockheed Martin
Bethesda, MD
(301) 897-6000


Figure 1

Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) provides jam-resistant communications that are resilient against enemy forces. A single AEHF satellite provides greater capacity than its compatible legacy five-satellite Milstar system (artists rending).

Figure 2.

General Dynamics C4 Systems successfully demonstrated that the AN/PRC-155 two-channel Manpack radios closed a 2,000-mile communications gap between Arizona and Massachusetts.

Figure 3.

The WGS payload can filter and route 4.875 GHz of instantaneous bandwidth. Depending on the mix of ground terminals, data rates and modulation schemes employed, each satellite can support data transmission rates ranging from 2.1 Gbps to more than 3.6 Gbps.

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