February 15, 2012

U.S. Army's operational testing of WIN-T Increment 2

News Report

As reported by U.S. Army, U.S. Soldiers recently began training in preparation for the upcoming Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, or WIN-T, Increment 2 operational test. Soldiers began the 10-week New Equipment Training, or NET, in January in advance of the WIN-T Increment 2 Initial Operational Test and Evaluation, known as an IOT&E, scheduled for next May.

The WIN-T Increment 2 IOT&E will be held in conjunction with the Army's Network Integration Evaluation, or NIE 12.2, where it will be participating as a System Under Test. The analysis and test results from this strenuous three-week IOT&E will be used in the Full Rate Production Decision, scheduled for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2012.

NIE 12.1, which wrapped up in November 2011, already gave the U.S. Army a unique opportunity to evaluate WIN-T Increment 2 in an operational environment about six months before its IOT&E. U.S. soldiers took the system for a test drive to evaluate its performance and provide valuable feedback well before the normal test cycle, enabling the Army to smooth out any rough edges and better prepare it for the formal operational test in the next spring. NIE 12.1, in particular, provided the first opportunity in which WIN-T Increment 2 was installed and evaluated on Mine Resistant Ambush Protected, or MRAP All Terrain Vehicles.

The Technology

As already illustrated in this blog, WIN-T is the U.S. Army’s on-the-move, high-speed, high-capacity backbone communications network, linking Warfighters on the battlefield with the Global Information Grid (GIG). WIN-T introduces a mobile, ad-hoc, self-configuring, self-healing network using satellite on-the-move capabilities, robust network management, and high-bandwidth radio systems to keep mobile forces connected, communicating, and synchronized.

Similar to a home Internet connection, WIN-T Increment 1 provided Soldiers with high-speed, high-capacity voice, data and video communications to units at battalion level, with Soldiers having only to pull over to the side of the road to communicate. WIN-T Increment 1 was defined as providing “networking at-the-halt” and consists of a Joint compatible communications package that allows the Warfighter to use advanced networking capabilities, retain interoperability with current force systems, and keep in step with future increments of WIN-T. Increment 1 is a rapidly deployable, early-entry system housed in an S-250 shelter and mounted on an ECV HMMWV for roll-on/roll-off mobility.

WIN-T Increment 2 adds warfighter mobility and provides a communication network down to the Company level. Increment 2 enables mobile battle command from Division to Company in a completely ad-hoc, self-forming network. The WIN-T Increment 2 addition of embedding communications gear in the Commander’s vehicles enables SIPR (Secure Internet Protocol Router) into the Warfighting platform. Commanders and select staff have the ability to maneuver anywhere on the battlefield and maintain connectivity to the network. Since the WIN-T Increment 2 network is self-forming and self-healing, it provides a new level of flexibility to support changing mission requirements. Not only does it add on-the-move communications capabilities down to the company level, but it will also allow combat net radio and data networks to be extended beyond-line-of-sight. An initial Network Operations, or NETOPS capability will also be fielded to facilitate the planning, initialization, monitoring, management and response of the network. Additional features of WIN-T Increment 2 are:
  • a "colorless core" which provides an enhanced level of communications security;
  • automated planning for WIN-T waveforms (Net Centric waveforms, NCW, and Highband Network Waveform, HNW);
  • propagation analysis for Line Of Sight (LOS) waveforms; 
  • On-The-Move (OTM) node planning;
  • automated link planning for currently fielded systems;
  • initial automated Spectrum Management;
  • initial Quality of Service (QoS) planning & monitoring;
  • map based monitoring;
  • over the air network management and configuration of WIN-T Radios.
WIN-T Increment 3 will continue development of WIN-T components to meet the full range of network capacity, security, and full on-the-move capabilities for the modular force. Increment 3 introduces the air tier providing a three-tiered architecture: a) traditional line-of-sight, b) airborne through the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and other airborne platforms, c) satellites.


"WIN-T Increment 2 will provide a number of transformational capabilities for the Army's tactical communications network," said Lt. Col. Robert Collins, product manager for WIN-T Increments 2 and 3. "This training is the first step in readiness for the operational test and our first opportunity to thoroughly train the Soldiers and give them all the right field tests to be able to operate and deploy the network."

"The power of WIN-T Increment 2 lies in its integrated terrestrial and satellite communications or SATCOM network," said Col. Edward Swanson, project manager for WIN-T. "Being able to command the battlespace securely and effectively while on-the-move, despite terrain obstructions, will transform how the Army operates and significantly increase mission success."

The Context

In 1999, almost one decade after Desert Storm, a U.S. Joint Requirements Operational Concept (JROC) established a new program of record to move tactical communications into the realm of net-centric communications. This program was entitled Warfighter Information Network, Tactical or WIN-T. It emerged as the U.S. Army embarked on the Chief of Staff's Transformation Roadmap under the U.S. DoD communications architecture umbrella known as the Global Information Grid (GIG). WIN-T was expected to take full advantage of emerging network technologies and provide voice, video, and data for the warfighter.

In 2002, two separate competitive contracts were awarded to General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin to perform system engineering tasks, program management tasks and engineering services necessary to conduct initial requirements analyses and generate network architecture designs. In 2004, the U.S. Defense Acquisition Executive authorized a revised acquisition approach for the WIN-T program. The new approach combined the two contractors into a single team with General Dynamics as the prime and Lockheed Martin as a major subcontractor.

In July 2006, the WIN-T schedule slipped five years from initial operational capability (IOC) fielding in 2008, to an IOC in 2013.

In September 2007 the U.S. Army awarded the General Dynamics-Lockheed Martin a WIN-T contract modification valued at up to $921 million to continue development of the WIN-T system and to accelerate delivery of WIN-T capabilities to the existing modular force. The $921 million in modifications comprised WIN-T Increment 2 and WIN-T Increment 3.

References: U.S. Army (1), C4I Technology News (2), Global Security (3), General Dynamics (4)

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