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To meet the demand for more effective communications in early phase foot-soldier crews engagement with battlefields, and as a key part of its network modernization strategy, the Army is incorporating new commercial components and transport capabilities to enable network communications in disconnected intermittent limited environments. The Integrated Tactical Network (ITN) will provide commanders with resilient communications as part of their primary, alternate, contingency and emergency communications plan.
The core capability primarily consists of commercial equipment; the challenge is integrating the new systems to function with and enhance the Army’s current fielded network. The Army anticipates fielding ITN solutions as part of capability sets on an incremental basis starting in 2021. The network design decisions will be informed by experimentation and operational tests, according to afcea.org.
The ITN is not a separate network that replaces current Army systems. Instead, it injects new commercial components and network transport capabilities into the Army’s tactical network environment.
The core technologies integrate with other network transport and mission command applications to provide more expeditionary and resilient communications options. The ITN initiative connects the components to take advantage of a diverse set of paths, enabling intuitive and resilient communications under disconnected intermittent limited conditions.
Components include single channel and two-channel leader radios with advanced networking waveforms, handheld Link 16 radios, radio gateways, tethered drones to extend network range, small aperture satellite terminals, commercial smartphone technology, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi and associated ancillary devices.
Delivering applications through a Nett Warrior end-user device, the ITN consolidates the air, ground and fires pictures onto a single secure common operating picture. The user can track the assault elements’ progress across an objective with confidence using the Nett Warrior’s software-based Android Tactical Assault Kit.
The ITN also augments high-bandwidth tactical network connections with commercially developed products that provide additional resilience, including in areas where satellite communications aren’t available. It expands basic command and control and situational awareness at command posts and air and ground vehicle platforms beyond a single-threaded satellite communications implementation for additional resiliency and capacity.
In addition, the network seamlessly integrates and routes data among any available wireless network paths and integrates network operations functions in a cohesive and simple-to-use interface that automates management and configuration capabilities. The ITN also deploys software-reprogrammable handheld and air and ground vehicle-mounted tactical radios that can perform direct legacy interoperability as well as implement modern and evolving wireless waveform standards.