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Air Force Bases Add MANET, Information Fusion Capabilities

U.S. Air Force to leverage regional operation network platform at key nuclear triad bases.

New York-based Persistent Systems LLC announced on March 1 that it will be supporting the U.S. Air Force’s Global Strike Command under a $75.5 million contract. The company’s mobile ad hoc networking (MANET) technology will be the foundation for its infrastructure-based regional operation network (IRON) offering that they will install first at three nuclear triad-related Air Force bases as part of the service’s Regional Operating Picture (ROP) program.

The system will offer constant communication capabilities for operations centers as well as providing a common operational picture of security force movements and locations on a digital map. “Both parties can seamlessly share critical tactical mission data for information fusion and action,” the company said. “Persistent's Wave Relay network enables airmen equipped with MANET devices to seamlessly share voice, video, chat, sensor and GPS data. IRON, serving the U.S. Air Force's ROP program, will extend this robust network over a 25,000-square-mile geographic area, connecting MANET edge networks into one unified Battlespace Awareness Network for increased situational awareness.”

The ROP setup will include an integrated MANET antenna system on fixed towers and poles and about 700 installed IRON systems that provide about 25,000 square miles of coverage. The company said that it would be connecting 75 operation centers and more than 1,000 security force vehicles, “resulting in the largest MANET network in the world.”

The company will begin by installing the ROP infrastructure at nuclear missile Air Force bases in Malmstrom, Montana; Minot, North Dakota; and Cheyenne, Wyoming (F.E. Warren), “with eventually more to come," said Persistent System’s Adrian Robenhymer, vice president, Air Force and Intelligence Community.

Persistent Systems concept for communications via a mobile ad hoc network to support the Air Force's regional operating picture, or ROP, program. Graphic courtesy of Persistent Systems
Persistent System's graphical representation of its infrastructure-based regional operation network that will support the U.S. Air Force's Regional Operating Picture (ROP) program at three of its nuclear triad-related bases. Graphic courtesy of Persistent Systems

“IRON has other applications beyond situational awareness,” he said. “It facilitates a fully digital battlespace that links multiple weapon systems and programs in a unified network. It provides the foundation on which a true joint all-domain command and control system could be built. IRON is also used with networked weapons, base defense, distribution of over-the-horizon communications for airborne counterinsurgency, and to support the Air Force's Agile Combat Employment (ACE) concept for dealing with near-peer powers targeting large air bases.”

Already, the ROP Program has started deploying IRON systems at the missile fields and will continue over the next 36 months.

"With our easy deployment and robust network, we can enable the rapid setup of small, spartan airstrips manned by any number of personnel," Robenhymer noted. "ROP is just the beginning."