New Military Communications Network to Enhance Terrain Dominance

New Military Communications Network to Enhance Terrain Dominance

U.S. Soldiers with 2nd Platoon, Attack Company, 1st Regiment, 503rd Infantry Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team set up a tactical satellite communication system in Shekhabad Valley, Wardak province, Afghanistan, Aug. 9, 2010. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Russell Gilchrest/Released)

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The quality of communications between army units is an important part of terrain dominance – C4I equipment, that grants the armed forces with the intelligence advantage concerning a defined area.

Modern expeditionary military missions generate and exchange massive amounts of data that are used to produce situational awareness and guide decision-making. Much of the data must travel long distances along backbone communications networks composed of high-capacity links that connect command centers.

Researchers at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) say they are making headway on efforts to develop a much more robust wireless communications backbone.

While optical fiber services can provide a multi-gigabit data backbone in many parts of the world, modern expeditionary forces require a similar capability in places where fiber access does not exist. Satellite Communications (SATCOM) services can provide some capacity to remote areas but cannot provide the capacity needed to support the amount of data generated by emerging ISR systems.

DARPA’s 100G program is developing the technologies and system concepts to project fiber-optic-class 100 Gb/s capacity via airborne data links anywhere within the area of responsibility (AOR).

For soldiers on the ground, a 100G infrastructure would represent a sizable increase over present wireless capacities. By comparison, wireless links that connect cell towers to fiber operate at between 1G and 10G over short distances. This system would magnify that tenfold at more than 10 times the distance, said Ted Woodward, manager for the 100G program, as reported by

Since its inception the 100G program has taken its cues from developments on the commercial side. “We looked at what technology base existed in the commercial and defense sectors,” Woodward said. “We were able to leverage prior investments … such as efficient power amplifiers and apertures.” At the same time, the program has been guided by the things DARPA did not see in the commercial marketplace.

“We specifically invested in high-order modulation and spatial multiplexing methods early in the program because the current state-of-the-art did not readily support our needs,” Woodward said.

The 100G program is exploring high-order modulation and spatial multiplexing techniques to achieve the 100 Gb/s capacity at ranges of 200 km air-to-air and 100 km air-to-ground from a high-altitude (e.g., 60,000 ft./18 km) aerial platform. The program is leveraging the characteristics of millimeter wave (mmW) frequencies to produce spectral efficiencies at or above 20 bits-per-second per Hz.

Computationally efficient signal processing algorithms are also being developed to meet size, weight and power (SWaP) limitations of host platforms, which will primarily be high-altitude, long-endurance aerial platforms.

Phase one testing has confirmed the viability of a 100-gigabit-per-second network, with further development and testing expected to continue into next year.

The technologies are scheduled to be integrated into a 100 Gb/s system in Phase 2, followed by flight testing in Phase 3.

Aspects of terrain dominance will be the focus of iHLS upcoming conference on Military and C4I Technologies for Terrain Dominance on 20.12.16.

For details on booth/sponsorship [email protected]

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