By Amy Walker, PEO Public AffairsDecember 18, 2015
Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. (December 18, 2015) -- In an increasingly complex world, the Army must be capable of supporting multiple contingencies simultaneously and at a moment's notice, with the ability to rapidly deploy and communicate anytime, anywhere, at every stage of operations.
A new duo of light-weight, portable satellite terminals, called Transportable Tactical Command Communications (T2C2), will provide early entry units in air-to-land missions, as well as follow-on units at the tactical edge, with a lite (v1) and heavy (v2) variant of high-bandwidth, deployable satellite dishes, to keep Soldiers and Commanders connected to the network and well informed.
"Our mission as an Expeditionary Signal Battalion (ESB) in the Pacific is to deploy on short notice anywhere within the course of the Pacific theater, which is over 50 percent of the globe," said Lt. Col. Mark Miles, commander for the 307th ESB. "We as an Army fight on the network, every element has a requirement to be a part of the digital effort that enables our military."
Within minutes of hitting the ground, T2C2 Lite v1 will enable early entry forces access via satellite to the Army's tactical communications network backbone, Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T). Enabled with connectivity, these forces can obtain the advanced situational awareness and mission command capabilities needed to conduct entry operations and set the stage for follow-on forces and the scalable buildup of additional network infrastructure. In later operations, T2C2 Heavy (v2) will extend the Army's network to the tactical edge by enabling company level command post/forward operating base communications. Additionally, in more mature operations T2C2 Lite (v1) could be used to support special expeditionary teams that require network access for their unique mission sets. WIN-T is the Army's tactical transport mechanism that delivers high-speed, high-capacity voice, video and data communications throughout theater, and both the T2C2 Lite and Heavy variant can bring that powerful network capability to the most remote and austere locations.
T2C2 is an Acquisition Category III program of record that was established in May 2014 to meet immediate fielding requirements for an Army satellite communications (SATCOM) terminal that can be jumped with Airborne units, and/or deployed via commercial aircraft using overhead spaces, and also to support forward company command posts. The T2C2 program was approved for Milestone C on November 18, 2015, by the Milestone Decision Authority, the Program Executive Officer for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T). At that time, T2C2 was approved to proceed with the Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) portion of the production and deployment phase for the purpose of conducting product verification testing and an Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) in preparation for a Full Rate Production (FRP) decision.
The Army awarded the first T2C2 LRIP delivery order on December 11, worth $3.26 million, under a single award Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) III contract to GATR Technologies for both T2C2 Lite (v1) and T2C2 Heavy (v2). SBIRs were created to stimulate technological advancement by increasing small business participation in federally funded research and development projects. The three-phase competitive process allows proposals to be submitted in response to Department of Defense requirements. This acquisition approach supports innovation, small business initiatives, leverages previously invested funds in the SBIR program, and reduces risk by the reuse of testing and logistics data from other services.
Because the T2C2 solution is inflatable, it can provide a larger dish size with increased capability and bandwidth efficiency in a smaller package. The Lite version fits in just two soft-side carry on cases. The highly expeditionary inflatable satellite antennas provide the commander with increased operational flexibility and speed in maneuver.
The unique GATR system design, a parabolic reflector in the center of an inflated sphere, provides approximately twice the aperture of a rigid antenna of similar volume when packed for transport. Doubling aperture size equates to at least two times increase in gain. The additional gain increases network efficiency and translates into a 50 percent reduction in the amount of satellite bandwidth required to operate both T2C2 variants.
The Army has already been utilizing the inflatable satellite antenna for operations and training exercises. The 82nd Airborne Division has successfully "jumped" with the inflatable GATR 1.2m satellite during exercises and during Joint Forcible Entry operations at Network Integration Evaluation 16.1 in October, the 82nd Airborne Division successfully air-dropped the inflatable satellite antenna (the 2.4 meter ), set it up and utilized the capability to provide early entry network communications during the mission.
Additionally, during a recent air assault mission at the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC), in Fork Polk, La., the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division used the 2.4 meter antenna to successfully activate Command Post of the Future (CPOF) and Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS) over the WIN-T network.
Fighting in a complex world requires equipment that is easy to transport, easy to set up and easy to operate and maintain. The Army anticipates that both versions of T2C2 will fill specific expeditionary requirements to better support multiple, unexpected contingencies. If Army units have individual operational needs for SATCOM capability outside the T2C2 program, there are many contract mechanisms within the program office that allow the Army to procure non program-of-record SATCOM systems in response operational needs statements. The end result is to keep Soldiers connected, at all times, in all environments, at all stages of operations.