ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Oct. 28, 2013) -- For the first time, dismounted Soldiers using unclassified Rifleman Radios will be linked to the classified Nett Warrior system by a new cross-domain device, improving situational awareness on the battlefield while maintaining the security of both networks.
Engineers from RDECOM's Communication-Electronics Center, or CERDEC, have developed a device allowing for the two-way sharing of information across tactical networks with differing security classifications, known as Tactical Army Cross Domain Information Sharing, or TACDIS, bridging the gap between a commonly used Army radio and a classified system for the first time.
The TACDIS program began in 2009 to meet the Program Executive Office Soldier need for cross-domain information sharing with the Nett Warrior system. Nett Warrior is the Army's classified handheld situational awareness and mission command system used by team leaders in combat operations, which needs to receive data from the unclassified Rifleman Radio in order to improve situational awareness on the battlefield.
"It's kind of a natural fit that we [CERDEC] would work on cross-domain guards [like TACDIS]," said Dr. Paul Zablocky, director of the CERDEC Space & Terrestrial Communications Directorate. "We understand how to break them, how others would break them, so we can be sure that we design them and build them properly. And we understand how to interface them to the radios because we have the expertise on the radios."
Rifleman Radios used by dismounted Soldiers send out geographic location messages which can be used for improved situational awareness on the Nett Warrior system. However, information from unclassified radios cannot be transferred to a classified system without a cross domain solution like TACDIS to securely link them together, explained Philip Payne, CERDEC TACDIS program lead.
"In order for Commanders to have higher granularity of where all his Soldiers are, to know where those dismounted, unclassified Soldiers are located, they need TACDIS," said Payne. "It incorporates more Soldiers, down to the tactical edge, and brings them into the classified common operating picture."
Location information is transferred autonomously through the TACDIS device, eliminating any added burden on the Soldier associated with a new piece of technology. If the device is carried by the team leader as a component of the Nett Warrior system it will seamlessly share this critical unclassified information with classified networks, explained Payne.
"The TACDIS device, when properly integrated with the Nett Warrior system, will enable individual Soldier positions to be known," said Jeff Grover, PM SWAR information assurance manager. "This improved situational awareness will decrease fratricide and increase mission effectiveness of infantry Soldiers."
The TACDIS device uses the AAMP7 microprocessor which has NSA certified security partitioning allowing for the secure transfer of information. Certification testing for the TACDIS device began in September at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. and will continue through early 2014. Certification is overseen by the NSA, ensuring information can be transferred safely while maintaining the security of the classified network.
After certification, the program will be transitioned to PEO Soldier's Project Manager Soldier Warrior, or PM SWAR, for developmental and field testing, large-scale production and eventually fielding to the operational environment, explained Payne.
"PM Nett Warrior will evaluate TACDIS in an operational setting during NIE 15.1 which is scheduled for October 2014," Grover said. "Following a successful NIE event, a production phase would be initiated to equip and train Nett Warrior Team Leaders."
According to Grover, if the program remains on schedule, fielding is expected to begin as early as 2015