The increasing importance of network-centric warfare and the new war on terrorism have accelerated the urgency for NATO to implement new information technologies across the spectrum of its political and military operations. However, obsolete procurement architectures, differing political cultures and outright national chauvinism have been the major obstacles to rapid integration of new command, control and communications systems for NATO, according to a leading alliance official.
The post-Cold-War world holds both common and unique challenges for one of NATO's newest members. As one of three nations admitted to NATO in 1999, Hungary is wrestling with national and military goals that must constantly adjust to changing requirements both internally and internationally.
The future may be at hand in the form of a multicontinental contractor team that combines existing technology to develop an advanced radar system. This industry group draws on expertise from companies located in all 19 NATO nations to produce a system that could finally realize a long-sought NATO airborne ground surveillance capability.
The software programmable radio era has spawned a new generation of units designed to interoperate while simultaneously serving specific service and platform needs. The result of these digital genetics is instant interoperability among land, sea and air forces as well as software-driven upgrades and compatibility with other systems.
A group of Russian telecommunications scientists has developed a new technology that can serve as a backbone for today's multiple communications protocols or as a stand-alone network. It can be scaled from a local area network up to a global telecommunications system capable of carrying voice, data and video simultaneously.
Buoyed by pinpoint impact and target destruction of successive ballistic missile test warheads in space, the U.S. Navy and the Missile Defense Agency are moving to more difficult engagement scenarios. This sea-based element of ballistic missile defense builds on the existing Aegis weapon control system and Standard Missile infrastructure to extend battlespace.
Smaller proved to be better for U.S. Air Force special operations forces that were inserted into Afghanistan. The smaller aspect was in the reduced communications footprint that allowed small teams to quickly begin operations in remote hostile territory. The better element was the advanced communications and situational awareness capabilities that were established well before the entry of conventional forces.
A new U.S. Air Force organization will conduct base maintenance, logistics and communications systems operations as part of a broader restructuring of the service's capabilities. It will work closely with the commands to provide essential services such as electronic records management and databases, information assurance for military operations and force structure, and organizational issues analysis.
The U.S. Air Force's toughest opponent in its mission to maintain air supremacy may be the march of time. Its aircraft are flying more hours and serving well past their original service lifetimes, and new network-centric operations are impelling technology upgrade across all wings.
A recently developed identification authentication system permits personnel to receive single-use passwords via wireless devices, allowing users who are traveling or at remote sites to access their networks. The technology is compatible with a variety of equipment that supports text messaging such as cellular telephones, pagers, personal digital assistants and laptop computers.