Chief of Signal Comments

Communications on the horizon

In the Spring issue of Army Communicator, I discussed how the Warfighter Information MG John P. Cavanaugh, Chief of SignalNetwork-Tactical will provide a network that supports tactical command, control, communications and computer requirements in the interim (2007) and objective (2010) forces. WIN-T is a fully integrated network comprised of switching, routing, transmission systems, network management, network services, information assurance and user interfaces. It provides voice, video and data services throughout the battlespace, and it will intelligently allocate bandwidth and route information over multiple transmission paths – both line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight – bypassing outages and congestion.

The WIN-T network is self-healing and self-organizing, getting critical information to the right place at the right time and in the right format. WIN-T depends on leveraging two other essential components to provide this fully integrated network – satellite communications and the Joint Tactical Radio System.

In this issue, I’ll discuss the SATCOM component, and in the Fall issue I’ll follow up with a discussion of JTRS.

The Signal community is currently developing, and in fact beginning to field, SATCOM systems that will provide BLOS connectivity for the WIN-T objective architecture. These systems are key communications enablers of warfighters’ objective-force capabilities. Our goal is to field SATCOM systems that provide greater bandwidth, connectivity, protection and reliability, while at the same time significantly downsizing these systems to make them much more mobile and deployable. The secure mobile antijam reliable tactical terminal is a prime example of where we’re going; the first of these terminals have already been delivered to tactical units.

SMART-T will be fielded to brigade combat teams, divisions and corps. It can support up to four links from each terminal, thereby significantly improving connectivity across the non-linear battlefield. The entire system, including generator, is mounted on one humvee and operated by a 31F. SMART-T uses the Milstar II extremely-high-frequency satellite, which provides protection from jammers and supports crosslinking to other Milstar satellites.

The launch of the first Milstar II satellite occurred in February. The 124th Signal Battalion was the first unit to take advantage of the capabilities offered by the SMART-T/Milstar II package. Reports indicate that system performance is outstanding.

Further enabling SMART-T will be the advanced EHF satellite constellation, which will be launched beginning in 2006. The AEHF system offers significant improvements in bandwidth, power and coverage areas. To take full advantage of AEHF’s capabilities, we will upgrade our SMART-T in the 2006 timeframe to handle eight megabits of throughput. With three SMART-Ts in a BCT, 12 in a division and 15 in a corps, this system will significantly increase the BLOS bandwidth and connectivity available to the tactical commander.

In the 2004 timeframe, we expect to field the super-high frequency triband advanced range-extension terminal to corps and echelons-above-corps units. Using any of three bands – military X band or commercial C or Ku bands – STAR-T will provide crucial long-haul communications and reachback to the sustaining base in support of force-projection operations. STAR-T will take advantage of the enhanced capabilities of the Wideband Gapfiller System, which will begin launch in early 2004.

WGS satellites are a follow-on to the current Defense Satellite Communications System satellites, but they offer a tenfold capability improvement in available bandwidth. In addition to providing improvements in X-band capability, WGS satellites will also have a new Ka band capability that can be used for both two-way and Global Broadcast Service communications. To take advantage of WGS’ increased capabilities, STAR-T will be upgraded by adding a fourth band (Ka), making it a quad-band terminal. The versatile reachback capability offered by the STAR-T/WGS combination strongly supports force-projection operations emphasized in both the Army’s transformation strategy and Joint Vision 2020.

GBS is a space-based, high-data-rate, one-way communications link providing critical information to widely dispersed warfighters in the field. GBS will provide up to 24 megabits per second of bandwidth to support the warfighters’ requirement to pass large files, graphics and maps directly to the tactical-operations centers that require them. GBS supports numerous warfighter OFCs, including advanced collection; processing, analysis and sharing of information; situational understanding; and decision and planning support.

GBS terminals are now being delivered to 4th Infantry Division.

Two narrowband systems, Spitfire and the single-channel antijam manportable terminal, allow commanders to extend voice and data connectivity anywhere on the battlefield. Spitfire, which uses the ultra-high frequency follow-on satellite system, is being fielded now; in 2010 it will migrate to the mobile-user objective system. MUOS is being developed to focus on providing improved BLOS capabilities to the tactical mobile warfighter. MUOS will continue to support today’s manpack/vehicular Spitfire system as well as future manpack/vehicular and handheld terminals developed under the JTRS program. The Spitfire waveform will be one of the first five incorporated into the JTRS radio.

SCAMP is a four-channel EHF radio that uses both Milstar and UFO-E satellites to provide protected tactical narrowband communications. SCAMP will also be upgraded to incorporate the improved narrowband capabilities of the AEHF system.

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Command-and-control on-the-move is a top priority for the Army, and SATCOM will play a major role in providing this essential capability.

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Command-and-control on-the-move is a top priority for the Army, and SATCOM will play a major role in providing this essential capability. On the non-linear and highly dynamic battlefield of the future, C2OTM must be reliable in both the LOS and BLOS modes. SATCOM radios will be the primary system supporting the BLOS mode. Today, we’re able to achieve limited (2.4 kilobits per second) BLOS range extension using a Spitfire radio configured with a special C2OTM package. Advances in satellite technology, specifically the WGS system, will make it possible to attain C2OTM rates exceeding 128 kbs. We’re now beginning efforts to make wideband C2OTM a reality by 2005 and expect the Advanced Wideband Satellite System to provide 1.544 mbps on-the-move for the objective force.

With Army transformation, we have an overarching vision from our top-level leadership of where we’re going. The Signal Corps is at the forefront of developing technologies, such as SATCOM, which will ensure we arrive at our destination with the ability to overmatch our enemy. Our three major communications programs – WIN-T, SATCOM and JTRS – provide key enablers for our transformation vision. The synergism that can be created by combining advanced communications systems with information systems and highly trained units was clearly demonstrated by 4th Infantry Division in Division Capstone Exercise 1. This effective and highly lethal method of fighting creates an environment our adversaries will learn to fear.

Stay tuned – there’s much more on the horizon.

Acronym QuickScan
AEHF – advanced extremely high frequency
BCT – brigade combat team
BLOS – beyond-line-of-sight
C2OTM – command-and-control on-the-move
EHF – extremely high frequency
GBS – Global Broadcast Service
JTRS – Joint Tactical Radio System
Kbs – kilobits per second
LOS – line-of-sight
Mbps – megabits per second
MUOS – mobile-user objective system
OFC – objective-force capability
SATCOM – satellite communications
SCAMP – single-channel antijam manportable (terminal)
SMART-T – secure mobile antijam reliable tactical terminal
STAR-T – super-high frequency triband advanced range-extension terminal
UFO-E – ultra-high frequency follow-on (enhanced)
WGS – Wideband Gapfiller System
WIN-T – Warfighter Information Network-Tactical

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