Navy's IT-21 plan steams ahead with global intranet
- By Gregory Slabodkin
- Dec 15, 1997
The Navy will spend more than $1 billion over the next two years on IT-21. The project
will use commercial technologies to modernize Atlantic and Pacific fleets' facilities on
ships and ashore.
Adm. Archie Clemins, Pacific Fleet commander and IT-21 architect, detailed the Navy's
implementation plan for fiscal 1998 and 1999 last month at the Armed Forces Communications
and Electronics Association's Technet Asia'Pacific '97 conference here.
"No one invests in infrastructure until they have no choice. The Navy has arrived
at the point where we have no choice but to invest in information technology,"
The Navy will pay for IT-21 by juggling funds of existing command, control,
communications, computers and intelligence programs. Clemins said 80 percent of the
investment required to build the intranet must go to upgrading the IT backbone of wideband
radio, terrestrial fiber and LANs.
The service will install IT-21 on certain ships in tandem with launching Global
Broadcast Service satellites. Twenty-three ships from both Atlantic and Pacific fleets
will receive wideband satellite terminals and high-speed LANs to use GBS.
GBS and commercial satellites will provide wideband radio frequency to the Navy's
forward deployed and dispersed forces. The Navy's Ultra-High Frequency Follow-On (UFO)
satellite launch in March will include four Ka-band transponders for Pacific Ocean
coverage. UFO satellite launches later next year and in 1999 will cover the Atlantic and
Until bandwidth can be increased, Clemins said, asymmetric networking will give the
Navy wideband RF access for forward-deployed forces. Most shipboard RF communications are
already asymmetric--they can receive more than they transmit--and that's a trend that will
continue as IT-21 is implemented, Clemins said.
The ashore portion of the two-year IT-21 plan focuses on San Diego and Hawaii, where
the Pacific Fleet is concentrated. San Diego is home to 29 percent of the fleet and 17,690
workstations, and Hawaii is home to 17 percent of the fleet and 10,126 workstations.
Metropolitan area networks in San Diego and Hawaii will link to most of their
respective shore activity systems, Clemins said. The MAN in San Diego will support at
least OC-3 transmission rates with connections to 86 of its 90 shore activity systems.
Hawaii will connect 45 of its 54 shore activity systems to the Secret IP Router Network
and the Non-Classified IP Router Network.
The Navy will also establish Regional Information Technology Service Centers in the
continental United States to oversee network management and connect Navy LANs to the
Defense Information Systems Network, Clemins said.
"To date, we have not found a centralized network management architecture that
maintains network capacity and provides the required security. This is an area where we
need industry help," he said.
The goal is a secure, global asynchronous transfer mode network to support 150,000 Navy
operational seats, including 61,000 seats in the Pacific. All ashore and afloat LANs will
have ATM backbones delivering Fast Ethernet to PCs.
Ultimately, the intranet will support 270,000 users worldwide, including nontactical
support commands, which will have browsers, continuous TCP/IP connections and multilevel
IT-21 will provide voice, video and data transmissions to each desktop PC, letting
users exchange classified, unclassified, tactical and nontactical information from the
same workstation, Clemins said.
For its part, Pacific Fleet will spend more than $500 million over the next two years
on IT-21. It will first invest in its two Joint Task Force command ships, the USS Blue
Ridge in the western Pacific and the USS Coronado in the eastern Pacific.
"Using several wideband RF communications media, most information will be pulled
to the ships instead of pushed from databases ashore," Clemins said.
Incoming tactical support information will reside in ship databases. Staff can then
study, manipulate and display the information on the intranet, he said.
The two JTF command ships will work in concert with a new Network Operations Center at
the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station-Pacific on the island of
Oahu. The center will supply enhanced RF network management and control over the wideband
IT-21 became Clemins' brainchild when he was Seventh Fleet commander and first toyed
with the idea of building a LAN to speed up data transfer between ships and shore
facilities. An earlier effort was called the Global Network Initiative.
GNI got a real-world test during the China-Taiwan crisis in early 1996. The Pacific
Command efficiently communicated with the USS Independence carrier battle group via
videoconferencing. During the run, e-mail with Microsoft PowerPoint graphic attachments
replaced the long process of transmitting messages via the aging AUTODIN system.