New satellite program of record increases capabilities, rapid response
May 29, 2014
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ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (May 29, 2014) -- When equipped with the latest, suitcase-sized satellite communications equipment, Soldiers will be able to connect to the Army's high capacity network anytime, anywhere.
Transportable Tactical Command Communications, known as T2C2, will provide satellite dishes that deploy in transit cases the size of carry-on luggage to support small detachments and teams, plus larger transportable satellite dishes to support company-sized elements. This advanced technology will enable Soldiers to connect to Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, or WIN-T, the Army's tactical communications network backbone, even in remote locations void of network infrastructure.
"T2C2 will provide significantly increased bandwidth to units in joint operations," said Lt. Col. Joel Babbitt, product manager for WIN-T Increment 1, which manages the T2C2 program. "It will increase the expeditionary capability and situational awareness of early entry units and provide continued communications to the tactical edge through all phases of operations."
On May 7, the Army Acquisition Executive signed the Material Development Decision for the T2C2 package, which establishes T2C2 as a formal Army program of record. Fielding T2C2 is expected to improve capability and increase efficiencies in both time and cost. The Army can also institutionalize and improve training and sustainment now that T2C2 has become a program of record. Many systems with capabilities similar to T2C2 have been fielded over the years to address operational needs, however T2C2 product selection is not expected until the second quarter fiscal year 2016.
"The T2C2 program is the Army's mechanism for capturing the innovation that's been evolving in the small satellite dish market sector, which the Army has been leveraging through operational needs statements for years," Babbitt said.
There are two versions of T2C2; a light and a heavy version. The man-portable T2C2 "Lite" can be set up and on the air in less than 10 minutes. As part of the WIN-T network, the Army's tactical communications network backbone, T2C2 provides satellite capability to small detachments and teams operating in remote locations without network infrastructure, enabling them to securely relay information, increasing situational awareness for the entire operation.
Fielding plans for T2C2 Lite will include Army airborne brigade combat teams that are part of the rapidly deployable joint Global Response Force. T2C2 Lite will provide early entry capability and continued situational awareness in air-to-land missions, said Maj. Frank Harmon, assistant Training and Doctrine Command Capability Manager for Network and Services, and user representative.
"T2C2 becomes the initial phase in the network in this type of scenario. It's the smaller piece and the network scales up from there to Joint Network Nodes, all the way up to a fully operational tactical WIN-T network," Harmon said.
As part of the Global Response Force mission, T2C2 Lite will become a companion to Enroute Mission Command Capability, another new WIN-T Increment 1 program that provides network access and mission command capability for Global Response Force units while in flight, said Tim Fitz Maurice, T2C2 lead for PdM WIN-T Increment 1.
"[Enroute Mission Command Capability] enables network connectivity on the airplane, and then T2C2 becomes the network connectivity solution the moment boots hit the ground," Fitz Maurice said. "Soldiers can transmit and receive continual situational awareness throughout their entire mission without skipping a beat."
T2C2 Lite is similar to the Army's Global Rapid Response Information Package, or GRRIP, a non-program of record, suitcase-sized ground satellite capability, which currently leverages L-band commercial satellite capability. Due to the nature of their missions, certain detachments and small teams may require a great deal of bandwidth to run more advanced applications. By adding Ka and X band access to the military's advanced Wideband Global SATCOM constellation, T2C2 Lite provides significantly higher throughput than legacy capability. It jumps from kilobits per second to megabits per second, providing the increased bandwidth needed to run advanced applications.
While the Lite version provides satellite communications to early entry teams, and will be a pooled resource at brigade combat teams, the larger, heavy version of T2C2 provides a high bandwidth tactical network extension for small companies and small forward operating bases operating beyond-line-of-sight from their higher headquarters. The heavy version will be pooled at Expeditionary Signal Battalions and enable small at-the-halt command posts and maneuver company-sized elements to exchange critical situational awareness over the WIN-T network. Its capabilities build on the currently fielded Secure Internet Protocol Router/Non-secure Internet Protocol Router Access Point, known as SNAP, ground satellite terminals. To support the T2C2 program, PM WIN-T plans to repurpose legacy SNAPs returning from the field and upgrade them with Ka/X band military satellite and secure Colorless Core transport capabilities.
Compared to other WIN-T satellite terminals, SNAP terminals have a smaller silhouette, and are easily transportable either by vehicle or sling-loaded by helicopter.
The Army is looking to use both legacy SNAPs and GRRIPs as a bridging capability until the final T2C2 capability is eventually fielded. The basis of issue plan for the SNAP and GRRIP bridging capability is very closely aligned with that for T2C2, so as T2C2 eventually begins fielding, PM WIN-T will just replace those legacy systems with the new, more advanced capability.
"T2C2 directly addresses the Army's current priorities of becoming a more expeditionary, scalable and capable force," Babbitt said. "Additionally, by providing continued higher capacity network communications to the most remote locations, we're enabling much more robust situational awareness and mission command capabilities for smaller units dispersed throughout a broader battlespace."