Tactical Mobile Broadband Networks


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To support the brigade level and above, these services rely on dedicated trunks for broadband connectivity. Such radios offer wireless connectivity at rates from 1 MB to 16MB. Where transfer of images or video is required, higher data rates become imperative, links are being implemented with modern high speed digital networks. These services are provided by modern commercial networking systems, derived from commercial Wireless Local Area Networks (WLAN), cellular networks or broadband satellite links. Advanced, secured SDH connections provide an ultra-wideband channel for up to 155mb. Such broadband satellite links and fiber-optics are widely used to link stationary or fixed command posts with terrestrial networks, but high-speed connectivity of mobile elements is still restricted.

Current high capacity data networks rely on a framework of terrestrial stationary nodes which are deployed at elevated positions throughout the battlefield, to maintaining optimal coverage over the entire theater. Unlike comparable commercial cellular systems, these networks do not support mobile users. Parallel to the rapid development of cellular networks and commercial 3G internet connectivity during the 1990s, the US military is promoting the research of military applications of such systems, in programs such as GloMo and Mobile Ad-hoc Network (MANET), resulting in demonstrated capability of voice/data services up to few mb to dismounted users, and 10 – 100mbps for vehicular/airborne users.

To enable the “mobile battlefield Network”, DARPA is developing the Multifunctional On-the-Move Secure Adaptive Integrated Communications (MOSAIC). This  “ad-hoc network” can automatically adapt to topography and interference, maintaining optimal Quality of Service (QOS) of data messages. MOSAIC can also be linked to terrestrial and SATCOM networks for global connectivity. MOSAIC and similar systems promise to revolutionize future tactical communications, but as they rely on wireless access, and use of internet like protocols, they have similar vulnerabilities of enterprise-class systems. The most severe cyber threat is expected to be worms with arbitrary payload that can infect and saturate entire MANET-based networks in seconds. A significant part of the development of MANET and MOSAIC is focusing on securing and protecting the network, and introduce self healing and recovery of its elements under attack.

Other commercial technologies are utilized to establish satellite communications on-the-move. Stabilized SATCOM antennas are used for commercial TV and data communications on the move, for aircraft, trains and private use are being adopted by military users for tactical on the move applications. Utilizing ruggedized or military grade systems, mobile SATCOM terminals are deployed on tanks or APCs serving as mobile command posts, reconnaissance teams, missile and artillery units, etc.

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