ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — The Army’s modernized, integrated network is gaining traction, literally.
Following the successful fielding of the Integrated Tactical Network’s Capability Set 21 kit of equipment to four Infantry Brigade Combat Teams, Capability Set 23 is inching closer to bringing the same modernized network capabilities to Stryker formations.
The result will bring interoperability to dismounted and mounted capabilities.
“As a Signalier, the most exciting part of CS23 is the seamless integration between vehicles and dismounted Soldiers,” said Maj. Elijah Kang, assistant product manager for Capability Set Development, under Project Manager Interoperability, Integration and Services.
Using the Nett Warrior end-user device, Soldiers transitioning between mounted to dismounted operations will maintain situational awareness and critical position location information, Kang said.
The ITN injects new commercial components and network transport capabilities into the Army's tactical network environment to provide maneuver brigades and below with smaller, lighter, faster and more flexible communications systems.
A featured capability of the ITN is its ability to enable multi-path network diversity, critical when forces face disconnected, intermittent limited communications conditions. The TSM commercial waveform enables this diversity, allowing flexible Soldier communications.
Over the past year, the Army has conducted CS21 and CS23 ITN technical assessments with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment (2/CR), headquartered in Vilseck, Germany. With a mission to conduct operations using highly mobile, net-centric Stryker vehicles, the 2/CR continues to be an ideal partner to help the Army mature ITN capabilities for a mechanized force, and it will be the first unit equipped with CS23.
“The next stop on the road to CS23 ITN goes through a series of assessments, including a technical test here at APG beginning this month,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Judy, product manager for CSD.
The technical test, with support from the Army’s Test and Evaluation Command, the Network Cross-Functional Team, and the DEVCOM C5ISR Center, will feature CS23 network designs during a representative maneuver of a Stryker company, with multiple Stryker variants supported by a battalion tactical operations center and a brigade command post. The technical test will utilize the CS23 network design from brigade to lowest echelon, stressing satellite and terrestrial radio communications systems and incorporating fires and electronic warfare data threads.
“This 10-day event is the equivalent of a developmental test and a great opportunity for us to see where things are going right and to identify potential issues or problems from a software perspective,” Judy said.
The test community will assess new CS23 ITN capability and the results will be communicated through Capability and Limitations reports that will inform CS23 final network design. Network systems developers and engineers will then implement mitigations to improve the overall performance of the CS23 network architecture.
The CS23 technical test will include Precision Fires-Dismounted (PF-D), which is used by forward observers and fire support teams to transmit and receive fire support messages over standard military line-of-sight, high-frequency and satellite communications radios. CS23 marks the first time ITN is integrated with fires support, meaning everyone in the fires chain will share the same common operating picture.
“Prior to PF-D, we could only send call for fires using [Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System] and a [Single Channel Ground to Air Radio System] data link,” Kang said. “This was the only reliable data path from forward observer to the artillery platforms. Now you have another transfer path, which is the TSM layer.”
Following the CS23 technical test, the Army will conduct a Critical Design Review in April, where Army leaders will solidify the integrated network design of this second round of modernized network capabilities. In June, the capability set team heads back to Germany with the 2/CR for a large-scale, Operational Demonstration (OPS Demo). The event will be the first time the ITN has been part of a live fires exercise.
“We are eager to see how the ITN performs at the Ops Demo because it will provide the most realistic operational environment to date,” Judy said. “We then look forward to our capstone event with 2/CR’s Dragoon Ready exercise in December.”
The capability set process for CS25 has already begun, which will bring capabilities to armor formations and division echelons. Following that, the Army will look towards CS27, which will bring Multi-Domain dominance capabilities to the armed forces.
“I'm very excited looking forward as we transition from the standard battlefield operation where the Army operates on its own to Multi-Domain operations, where we will have a true joint environment,” Judy said. “Our capability sets are enabling us to look into the future and prepare us to fight our near-peer adversaries.”
The U.S. Army Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical develops, acquires, fields and supports the Army's mission command network to ensure force readiness. This critical Army modernization priority delivers tactical communications so commanders and Soldiers can stay connected and informed at all times, even in the most austere and hostile environments. PEO C3T is delivering the network to regions around the globe, enabling high-speed, high-capacity voice, data and video communications to a user base that includes the Army's joint, coalition and other mission partners.