Poland Modernizes Forces With Focus on Satellites
New infrastructure to align with NATO avoids duplication of capability.
Poland has deployed sizable formations to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. These require reach-back capabilities to headquarters in Warsaw, which in turn require satellite connectivity.
“The main task for communication and information systems (CIS) is to enable commanders to organize, command and concentrate troops in order to accomplish the mission,” explains Col. Boguslaw Szczypior, PLAF. Col. Szczypior is responsible for implementing deployable and tactical communications systems at the Command and Communications Systems Division, General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces (PLAF). “Now that the PLAF is becoming more involved in operations that are conducted far away from the homeland, there is a growing need to provide troops with long-haul broadband communications,” he points out. “The concept of satellite communication is essential for providing troops with reliable, deployable worldwide communications for missions performed outside the country. Our second issue is to provide more robustness for strategic and tactical communications systems in country. Satellite communication is one of the key elements of network-enabled capability.”
Military satellite communications (MILSATCOM) is a priority for the communications element in the overall modernization plan for the PLAF from 2007 through 2012. “In the contemporary battlefield, superiority is achieved by information advantage,” Col. Szczypior explains. This superiority is assured by network-centric operations when information gathered by intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems is provided to commanders in real or near real time. Aggregated information should be delivered to all appropriate personnel within the chain of command to provide military commanders with full situational awareness, creating a common operational picture. Networks will interconnect all command echelons down to individual soldiers, covering all functional areas from combat operations in the theater to support elements back home, all synchronized by the coordinated command and control (C2) system.
As part of the plan, Col. Szczypior outlines four command, control, communications, computers and intelligence priorities in addition to the acquisition of military and civilian satellite communications for PLAF use. These priorities include cooperating with NATO in the field of NATO network-enabled capability; making available advanced broadband tactical systems; integrating automated C2 systems into a common operating picture; and further implementing Link 11, 16 and 22 datalinks. “Communications systems such as satellite communications, high frequency systems, tactical radios, line-of-sight datalinks and multifunctional interoperable automated data processing systems will be the basis of network centricity.”
“We are at the beginning of introducing modern satellite communications into our forces. However, we do have some experience with analog military satellite communications based on the [former]
In 2004, the PLAF developed the concept of satellite connectivity to tactical networks with higher echelon networks, which was subsequently accepted by the Ministry of Defence. According to this concept, explains Col. Szczypior, military satellite communications will be developed and implemented into the PLAF to provide communications support links with a number of multinational operations. These include European Union-led forces, Polish contingents within NATO-led multimission operations, non-NATO coalition operations and U.N. missions.
One of the key elements associated with developing this concept was the geographic coverage for satellite links necessary to support ongoing and future deployments. The primary area of responsibility deemed necessary is 30 degrees west to 60 degrees east, stretching from just short of the eastern tip of Brazil to the eastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula, with a secondary area of coverage required from 100 degrees west to 120 degrees east, reaching from the U.S. Midwest to the edge of the Philippines.
As part of this assessment, the PLAF also considered several satellite communications frequency bands ranging from ultrahigh frequency (UHF) to extremely high frequency (EHF): UHF L band at 1 to 2 gigahertz (GHz), military and government X band at 7 to 8 GHz a band, C band at 4 to 8 GHz, Ku band at 10 to 15 GHz and Ka band at 19 to 32 GHz. After consideration, it was determined that super high frequency (SHF) was the optimal frequency for
|Polish troops are conducting road security measures in hostile areas similar to those performed by U.S. forces. Many current Polish overseas operations have been supported via commercial satellite communications. The next stage of Poland’s plans will see this supplemented by leased X-band military satellite communications.|
“To ensure reliable strategic secure communications,” Col. Szczypior explains, “we intend to use X band. In crowded situations, it can be rather difficult to find on-demand commercial capability, and such capability can be very limited for several reasons. Therefore,
In developing a satellite communications/MILSATCOM infrastructure,
In addition to linking deployed forces, the PLAF is eyeing satellite communications/MILSATCOM as a means to transform the provision of communications to distributed forces in support of more traditional maneuver operations. “In our CIS policy, core communications at the level of corps and division were built using a mesh architecture, based on line of sight,” says Col. Szczypior. In discussing the current PLAF communications network, he explains that “to cover the area of responsibility for corps and division, a lot of line of sight is needed. Implementations of satellite communications systems allows us to transition from a full mesh line-of-sight network to mixed signals architecture and reduces the complexity and number of line-of-sight systems.”
Col. Szczypior believes this effort will result in changes to the PLAF’s approach to take advantage of new beyond-line-of-sight enablers. In a modern battlefield operation, the area of responsibility of the corps, division and brigades is increasing, particularly in peacekeeping and stabilization efforts. It will become more difficult to provide troops with communications using a mesh architecture based on line of sight. Instead, widely distributed systems with so-called communications islands will be interconnected with satellite communication systems.
“Almost everything is a challenge for us” with regard to implementing future plans, the colonel relates.
To realize the infrastructure to support MILSATCOM, the PLAF plans to begin construction of its first of two MILSATCOM anchor sites in 2008, which will be owned by the military and will support the C, X and Ku bands. “So far we have been working hard on the project definition. In 2008, technical studies will be developed, and at the end of the year, hopefully, construction work will start. In 2009, we plan to procure equipment for the stations, and a second fixed station for backup is planned to be built by 2012 to 2016,” Col. Szczypior states.
“At the moment we have a pool of deployable terminals for SHF communications consisting of two terminal types: the transportable ground terminal, AGAWA, and the mobile ground terminal, FIKUS,” he outlines. Both solutions are tri-band and support C-, X- and Ku-band communications. AGAWA provides strategic-level support at corps and division levels with the 1.8-meter-diameter FIKUS being reserved for lower echelons. AGAWA and FIKUS provide 20 megabits per second (Mbps) and 7 Mbps in time division multiple access (TDMA) and frequency division multiple access (FDMA) over point-to-point, point-to-multipoint and mesh networks using Internet protocol as the basis for communications.
One main issue for the future, according to Col. Szczypior, is the acquisition of small flyaway terminals to provide long-haul communications at the tactical level for the army and special operations forces. These terminals need to be available with an antenna of less than 1 meter; they need to provide throughput of around 512 Kbps; and they must be able to be carried by one soldier. Another objective, according to the colonel, is to provide the mobile commander with reliable communications involving small units. The commanders need to communicate on the move and to receive and share information and combat identification.
Discussing security in the context of using civilian satellite communications, Col. Szczypior says, “The challenge is to provide more assurance in the future. We are aware that [leased civil satellite communication] is not always very good. We are in the process of acquiring future capacity so that this issue can be addressed.” The PLAF is currently looking at acquiring a greater antijamming capability, with electronic protection measures and EHF capability being considered.
“For operations in
Satellite communications interconnect headquarters at all times. Internet protocols provide integrated-services digital network data to tactical voice, while UHF MILSATCOM is provided by NATO and ensures voice communications at company level. Beside broadband SHF,
Ministry of National Defence,