Second increment of network keeps the Army moving
WIN-T Increment 2 delivers high-speed network to warfighters on the move
By Amy Walker
In preparation for the fielding of the second increment of the Army’s tactical communications network, a $2.8 billion Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) contract was recently finalized, allowing for continued production of the network.
Once fielded, Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2 will bring mobile communications to the Army, a new capability that will reach down to the company-level Warfighter for the first time.
“This significant step brings WIN-T Increment 2 from the conceptual stage to the tactical training and operational employment environment,” said Brig. Gen. N. Lee S. Price, Program Executive Officer for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T). “For the first time, we can evaluate this equipment in dynamic, operational conditions.”
Similar to a home Internet connection, WIN-T provides high-speed, high-capacity voice, data and video communications. Building on the success of WIN-T Increment 1, currently fielded to 80 percent of the total force, WIN-T Increment 2 will provide the initial On The Move (OTM) network communications down to the company level. It is currently undergoing a series of pre-fielding tests and evaluations and is expected to reach the first unit by the end of 2012.
WIN-T Increment 2 will establish a moving communication grid that eliminates the need to stop in order to communicate, allowing Soldiers and Commanders to stay connected even in high intensity conflicts.
One of the key strengths of WIN-T Increment 2 lies in its ability to adapt to changing mission conditions in real time, without the pre-planning and configuration required of traditional networking infrastructure. By taking advantage of both satellite and line of sight communications, units in austere environments such as mountainous regions, can still connect and communicate through this self-forming, self-healing network. Should a component of the network become inoperable, it will restructure itself and continue providing the seamless communication needed to complete dynamic operational missions.
Traditionally, the WIN-T network has been at the battalion level and above, but the Soldier Network Extension (SNE) of Increment 2 will now extend that network down to the company level. In the past, terrain features often fractured the radio component of the network, but the SNE has the capability of healing the network using satellite communication as an alternative. With the SNE extended down to the lower echelon radio nets, such as the Wideband Networked Waveform (WNW), Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW), Enhanced Position Location Reporting System (EPLRS), and Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS), radios can now “touch” the WIN-T network backbone, increasing the scope of the Army’s entire communications network.
“Instead of an ‘air gap’ existing between those lower echelon systems and the WIN-T Tactical Operations Center network, we now have on the move platforms at company level forward that have those radios in them and tie the whole network together,” said Pat DeGroodt, deputy Product Manager (PdM) for WIN-T Increment 2/3.
WIN-T Increment 2’s LRIP contract was finalized in December 2010. With a ceiling of $2.8 billion, the contract supports roughly 20 maneuver units and includes two years of LRIP and an option for one year of Full Rate Production. An earlier contract portion was awarded in April 2010 and has allowed Project Manager (PM) WIN-T to produce the initial equipment sets for a series of upcoming qualification tests. These tests will lay the groundwork for the Initial Operational Test and Evaluation in the second quarter of fiscal year 2012.
“This critical milestone allows the Army to continue the modernization of its current technologies and to provide the network which will bring future capability sets earlier to the battlefield,” said Lt. Col. Robert M. Collins, product manager for WIN-T Increment 2/3. “As the Army modernizes current software capabilities and integrates its stand alone technologies into a system of systems, WIN-T Increment 2 will provide the additional bandwidth to enhance Army Modernization.”