Satellite Networking for Naval Battlegroups
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Introduction: The Information Technology Division at NRL continues to advance the satellite networking capabilities of Naval battlegroup networks. Combat systems of the future have been set up to interact with a number of sensors, systems, and collaborative tools from within the Navy and from the other services. This requires a sophisticated battlegroup network to provide both the capacity and the flexibility necessary to support this integration. The primary backbone of this network-centric warfare scenario is a set of satellite-based links between a primary, or "hub," command ship and a number of other ships in the battlegroup, as well as to resources ashore.
Satellite-based Networks for the Fleet: Operation over a satellite transponder provides highdata- rate channels between distant terminals on land or at sea. However, the latency introduced by such a link (~0.25 seconds from one Earth station to another via satellite) can have severe implications on network operations.
In addition, there is a critical shortage of space for new antenna systems aboard U.S. Naval combatants. Each new system added must ensure that it neither creates nor is impacted by electromagnetic interference (EMI) while used in conjunction with operational shipboard systems.
The Satellite and Wireless Networking Section, Code 5554, develops methods, hardware, and architectures to support high-data-rate networks for the fleet. Electronics engineers and computer scientists collaborate with Naval staff and other laboratories to create solutions that link applications within a platform to other combatants at sea and on land. This is particularly necessary for small-deck combatants, which are currently lacking in connectivity and in available bandwidth for communications.
Fleet Battle Experiments: The purpose of the Navy's Fleet Battle Experiment (FBE) program is to "operationalize" network-centric operations and warfare. This is accomplished by developing a networkcentric architecture that includes operational forces and infrastructure, providing those forces with widearea network connectivity within the area of operation and a networked reachback capability. State-of-the- art combat systems applications, hardware, and communications technologies are applied to meet the architecture requirements. This effectively pairs networking and information technology with effectsbased operations to achieve the full impact of coordinated network-centric warfare. FBE seeks to experiment within the operational and tactical level of war, focusing on the seaward concepts and procedures in support of maneuvering and time-critical targeting.
Fleet Battle Experiment-India: NRL successfully developed and implemented an advanced shipboard network to support the Navy Warfare Development Command during Fleet Battle Experiment- India (FBE-I) in June 2001. NRL provided a highdata- rate (HDR) networked connectivity between four Naval ships and two land sites, with the hub aboard the Third Fleet flag ship, the USS Coronado (AGF 11) (Fig. 4). The ships involved were the USS Bunker Hill (CG-47), the USS Lake Champlain (CG- 52), the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6), and the USS Stennis (CVN-74). The land sites were the Fleet Command Training Center, Pacific (FCTCPAC), San Diego, and Camp Pendelton, California. Four of the ships, including the flagship Coronado, were each equipped with commercial Ku-band shipboard antenna systems with special EMI protection developed for Naval platforms. The carrier, the USS Stennis, was in port for the entire exercise, and was supported using a fixed 2.4-m antenna system identical to that used at FCTCPAC. The NRL-installed Ku-band satellite communication (SATCOM) systems provided the six sites at sea and on land with full duplex links to the USS Coronado. The data rates for each link ranged from 512 kbps to 4 Mbps full duplex, for a total aggregate throughput of 14 Mbps for the exercise.
NRL's network allowed FBE-I to exercise advanced sensor-to-shooter concepts and to extend high bandwidth SIPRNET (Secret Internet Protocol Routing Network) to the five ships afloat and to Camp Pendelton on shore. Advanced video, data, and voice products were transported successfully across the entire network. FBE-I operated for the first time with its hub and Network Control Center (NCC) at sea with the battlegroup, and the entire exercise was run and coordinated from the Coronado. An NRL-designed control system was implemented to support link reconfiguration of all nodes from the hub. These allowed the networks to be monitored and modified by NRL engineers during the exercise as warranted by the experimentation.
Conclusions and Future Developments: FBE-India successfully demonstrated the possibilities for commercial SATCOM augmentation of fleet operations in littoral areas and demonstrated the opportunities possible by establishing an at-sea control center in theater (Fig. 5). Shipboard SATCOM systems supported the experiment without adversely affecting normal operational performance or ship safety.
Based on this success (and on previous FBEs supported by NRL), Code 5554 will once again be the network and communication leads for FBE-Juliet/ Millennium Challenge 02, which will take place in July-August of 2002. The operational network will again center on a battlegroup afloat, with the addition of a second satellite-based network to support network-centric warfare operations between the Navy and the other services.
NRL was also selected to design and implement the C4I space for the Joint Venture (HSV-X1), an experimental high-speed catamaran leased by both the Navy and Army to explore the operational capabilities of such a ship. NRL is installing a state-of-theart C4I suite that incorporates both satellite and lineof- sight connectivity. This suite will support both standard fleet and Army communications channels, as well as advanced data/voice/video applications. Joint Venture is slated to participate in FBE-Juliet, among a number of other exercises in the U.S. and abroad.
Acknowledgments: The design, development, installation, and support of the FBE-India Communications Network was a major effort requiring significant support from the Navy Warfare Development Center (NWDC) in Newport, Rhode Island. Contractors involved in the effort included ITT, BBN Technologies, and Scientific and Engineering Solutions, Inc. Also participating in this effort was the Naval Surface Warfare Center (Dahlgren, Virginia) and SPAWAR, San Diego. California.
[Sponsored by NWDC]