New Networking for the BCT

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The network initiative currently under analysis and review, will partly derive from the FCS network technologies, and dovetail into an incremental network strategy to be implemented throughout the U.S. land forces. The network was designed as a central and critical component of the FCS strategy, hence, it was designed to be so robust and resilient, that it required a new vehicle with unique infrastructure available only by the specially designed ‘Manned Ground Vehicle’ for full implementation. The Army panel will now take a fresh look at these requirements including new capabilities, technologies and lessons learned from the FCS program.

The panel’s recommendations will inform U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s (TRADOC) ongoing work on operational requirements for the ground combat vehicle. The Army will now reassess the requirements and capabilities of this network to determine what networking, processing, cooling and power resources are required to run the software. This analysis will also address the requirements from the network and C4I software, into what the new capabilities are expected to address. What systems it should cooperate with, how such integration should be performed and what level of ‘backward compatibility’ is required for best integration with the current force. Overall, the new network is considered to establish the BCT’s future Intelligence, Surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) command and control network, employed on current and future ground combat vehicles such as he Stryker,MRAPBradley, M-1A2 and the yet-to-be-defined Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) and Joint Light Tactical family of vehicles (JLTV).

An early version of such future network is being tested by the Army Evaluation Task Force (ATEF) at Ft., Bliss. Tx. The unit, part of the former FCS test and evaluation team, has already employed the new network as part of the evaluation of the FCS ‘Spinout’. This test evaluated a subset of the FCS network running on HMMWVs rigged with Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) radios and adapters, enabling communications with current Brigade networks and the new protocols established by JTRS. Soldiers from the 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, based at Fort Blisst have been evaluating unattended ground sensors, unattended urban sensors, small unmanned ground and air vehicles and network integrated HMMWVs since last July, as part in operations of the Army’s combined task force. Unlike other test and evaluation programs, conducted with individual systems by civilian test officers, the systems that survived the FCS cancellation are being tested as a group by soldiers, to get better user feedback on both, the individual systems and the network that connects them. The process will allow forming a ‘system-of-systems’ approach, where each new component is providing the unit with pieces to form a larger battlefield picture.

Our BCT Modernization Update covers these topics in four parts: