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C4iSR: Joint & Common Equipment

US Army seeking right mix of systems, capabilities in key tactical network drill

07 November 2019
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Elements of 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division use Integrated Tactical Network components during a live-fire exercise at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, in January 2019. Source: Department of the US Army

Hitting the right mix of network and communication platforms, systems, and capabilities for US Army ground units will be one of several key objectives for a major upcoming demonstration of the newest iteration of the service’s Integrated Tactical Network (ITN), although army officials acknowledged they may not get the right mix during the highly anticipated field exercise.

The army has completed the “end to end integration effort” for the network technologies and capabilities slated for the upcoming demonstration of Capability Set 21, as part of ongoing work at the service’s research facilities at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland, Colonel Garth Winterle, programme manager for tactical radios at the Program Executive Office for Command, Control, and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T), said during a roundtable interview with Jane’s on 14 October.

Capability Set 21 will focus on integrating cellular 4G and other communication networks, coupled with legacy systems upgrades operating on a secure but unclassified architecture, to facilitate dismounted combat manoeuvres. The follow-on effort, known as Capability Set 23, will focus more on Stryker-based mounted operations but also glean lessons learned from Capability Set 21, said Army Colonel Robert Ryan, deputy director for the service’s Network Cross-Functional Team (N-CFT). (Updates are delivered every two years, which is why there is not a Capability Set 22.)

“We have a case where I can re-use some lessons learned, develop a basis of issue for equipment for my dismounted configuration, and take into account my changes due to range, formation type, and vehicle type” that I now have as part of Capability Set 23, Col Ryan told Jane’s during the same 14 October roundtable. Elements of the ITN technology package included in Capability Set 21 have also undergone initial fielding while deployed with the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade (1st SFAB) during their deployment to Afghanistan, Col Winterle noted.

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