A team of researchers from industry, academia and the U.S. Defense Department is creating high-speed, long-range communication technologies that will help eliminate the fog of war and take the element of surprise away from the enemy. The secure laser-based system will offer communication uplink speeds in the multigigabit-per-second range and will improve tracking so communications can be transmitted to satellites from mobile platforms. The research also will lead to aberration-free three-dimensional imaging at distances of more than 600 miles.
An experimental communications system may provide future combat vehicle crews with access to high-bandwidth intelligence and command and control applications. Part of a larger U.S. Defense Department effort to improve troops' ability to receive and send data, this research program is developing technologies to open communications channels down to the most spectrum-starved tactical user.
Communication decision aids are enabling U.S. Navy shipboard-system developers to improve system designs and on-station communicators to prepare better communications plans by predicting performance. The tools help designers take into account the variables of the entire communications environment, including a sea of antennas or other obstacles that could block communications. Perhaps more importantly, the tool set helps commanders answer the quandary, "I have the systems, but can I communicate?"
The Office of Naval Research and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center are testing a commercial Web technology that will boost network centricity in the program management process. An enterprise weblog, a Web-based journal that supports information sharing, communication and collaboration all in one medium, is being employed during the test and evaluation phase of a night-vision technology project.
Virtually every piece of military electronics hardware, from the simplest handheld personal computing assistant to the most powerful mainframe computer, faces the challenge of interoperability to fit into the U.S. Defense Department's Global Information Grid. Designed as the ultimate military networking project, the grid is a cornerstone for achieving the information superiority outlined in the department's Joint Vision 2010 and Joint Vision 2020.
The U.S. military's goal of a network-centric warfare capability is a step closer to reality with the recent contract award for the development of a long-awaited family of advanced radios. The devices will eliminate communications difficulties between terrestrial and airborne units through the use of common waveforms, creating greater situational awareness and enhanced survivability for warfighters.
The U.S. Defense Department is connecting key command, control and intelligence facilities around the world with a computer network capable of moving massive amounts of information. Designed to provide the bandwidth necessary to channel live video and sensor data from distant theaters back to commanders and analysts, the system will allow users to post and share documents in real time. This enhanced networking capability offers the military and intelligence communities a robust architecture for network-centric collaboration and decision making.
At the end of this decade, warfighters will begin using an advanced satellite system to maintain on-the-move connectivity with small handheld and vehicle-mounted radios. The planned constellation will provide U.S. military and civilian government agencies with a mobile communications capability that currently is not available. New waveforms and algorithms will permit cellular telephone-size devices to receive signals through dense jungle canopies and bad weather.
The desire to produce a truly joint radio for airborne, maritime and fixed station users has led two separate acquisition programs to merge. By combining their efforts, program managers hope to streamline the bidding and procurement process while creating more efficient equipment.