According to the announcement, the latest contract revision will “add Internet-like capabilities to the U.S. Marine Corps’ Combat Operations Centers (COCs), the focal point of decision-making for deployed Marine commanders and their staffs. Through this effort, General Dynamics will upgrade the COCs’ electronic systems to increase Marines’ situational awareness and information sharing abilities, and improve network connectivity across the tactical battlespace.”
Identified as the COC Model G, the new system will facilitate sharing of mission rehearsal and execution information among other Marine Corps COCs and joint forces partners. The system will enable services such as electronic “chat,” e-mail, and Voice-over Internet Protocol (VoIP) communications. General Dynamics will also migrate existing hardware-based command and control, tactical data systems, and other applications to software-driven services using the Marine Corps’ service-oriented infrastructure.
Other key activities are also taking place to further facilitate the expansion of this networking capability down to the land force tactical edge.
One of those representative activities involved limited user testing (LUT) of the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) “Increment 2.”
Conducted March 18-30, 2009, the LUT allowed soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, Wash., and 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Ga., to successfully share networked command and control mission information. The largest, most complex user test for WIN-T demonstrated networked battle command on-the-move in realistic operational scenarios across a 3,000-square-mile area.
General Dynamics C4 Systems is the prime systems integrator for WIN-T, teamed with Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Harris Corporation, L-3 communications, Juniper Networks, Inc., and CISCO Systems, Inc.
The WIN-T program consists of four increments. Increment 1 is now in the hands of more than half of the U.S. Army worldwide, providing the Army’s enterprise network for deployed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Beyond Increment 2, which enables initial mobile networking for divisions, brigade combat teams, battalions and companies, Increment 3 provides increased network reliability and capacity, smaller and more tightly integrated communications and networking gear, and supports the Future Combat System. Increment 4, the last of the WIN-T developmental program elements, is a pending contract award.
According to General Dynamics representatives, during the March 2009 LUT soldiers from the two units planned and executed multiple missions, sharing command and control information from the command post down to the company level using WIN-T.
“This is the largest and most complex user test for WIN-T and demonstrates just how critical a weapon the network is in the Army’s arsenal because it is what soldiers will depend on to communicate on the battlefield,” said WIN-T Project Manager Col. William C. Hoppe, Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communication-Tactical for the U.S. Army Communications and Electronics Command at Fort Monmouth, N.J.
If deemed successful by the Army’s Evaluation Center, completion of the LUT reportedly paves the way for the Army to approve low-rate production of the system. Upon final approval, fielding of the new equipment to the first unit will begin in late 2010.
The Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) also provides several representative examples of critical land force network developments that have taken place over the last year.
In one example, on Feb. 27, 2009, Boeing delivered the first two engineering development models (EDM) of the JTRS Ground Mobile Radio (GMR).
“When fielded, JTRS GMR will allow warfighters to communicate and share information over a secure, interoperable tactical radio system,” said Army Col. Daniel P. Hughes, program manager, JTRS Ground Domain.
“JTRS GMR is more than a radio; it provides interactive voice, video, and data communications. This interoperable system truly provides communication and situational awareness capabilities that have never been available on the battlefield,” added Ralph Moslener, Boeing JTRS GMR program manager.