Defense

March 23, 2012

Army labs prepare systems for Network Integration Evaluation

Army photograph by Amy Walker
In preparation for the Network Integration Evaluation 12.2, Soldiers trained on-the-move at Fort Bliss, Texas, March 13, 2012. The convoys included Warfighter Information Network-Tactical Increment 2 Soldier Network Extensions, as shown here.

In advance of this spring’s major field exercise for the Army’s new tactical communications network, engineers are putting systems through their paces to ensure a smooth handoff to the troops conducting the evalutions.

This will be the first Network Integration Evaluation, or NIE, for which the Army has used new laboratories at Aberdeen Proving Ground to conduct assessments and mitigate risk prior to an NIE start. Over the last several months, that activity has narrowed the list of government and industry products participating in the field exercise, and lightened the integration burden for the Soldiers and engineers who execute the NIE at Fort Bliss, Texas, and White Sands Missile Range, N.M.

The lab-based risk reduction represents a key step as the Army implements its new Agile Process for developing, testing and buying the network gear that will connect all echelons of a brigade combat team with real-time voice and data, even while moving across the battlefield.

“We’ve got to share information no matter where we’re at, and it’s got to be relevant and it’s got to be timely,” said Col. John Morrison, director of the Army G-3/5/7 LandWarNet-Battle Command Directorate.

“This is a fundamental change in the way we are acquiring, testing, evaluating and then fielding network capabilities to our operational formations,” he added. “This is a change in how we do business. And like any big change in how you do business, there are things that are challenging to us as we work our way through.”

NIE 12.2, which will take place in May and June, is the third and most significant such exercise the Army has conducted. It will equip the 3,800 Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, with the entire network architecture of Capability Set 13, an integrated package of vehicles, network components, and associated equipment and software that will be fielded to Army brigade combat teams beginning in fiscal year 2013.

The realistic on-the-move missions conducted by 2/1 AD, along with a higher headquarters element of the 101st Airborne Division operating out of Fort Campbell, Ky., will serve to validate and finalize the components of Capability Set 13. A battalion-sized opposition force will be employed in dynamic scenarios with hybrid threats, including conventional forces, insurgents and members of the local population.

“We will test the holistic network in a realistic operational environment, the way it’s going to be fielded,” said Maj. Gen. N. Lee S. Price, program executive officer for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, known as PEO C3T. “We will be able to see the operational effects of that connectivity.”

Army photograph by Claire Schwerin

The Army is preparing for the Initial Operational Test and Evaluation, or IOT&E, for Warfighter Information Network-Tactical Increment 2 through risk reduction efforts at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. Pictured is a Tactical Communications Node running realistic mission threads in preparation for the IOT&E, which will take place in May at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., in conjunction with the Network Integration Evaluation 12.2.

Prior to receiving a field tryout with Soldiers, network capabilities must pass through the laboratories at Aberdeen Proving Ground for technology evaluation, assessment and integration. Systems are tested individually and as an integrated network that replicates the structure of what will be fielded to the 2/1 AD, allowing engineers to resolve interoperability issues so Soldiers can focus on performance once the equipment is delivered for the exercise. At previous NIEs, many of these issues had to be worked out on the ground at Fort Bliss and White Sands.

The lab assessments are intended to inform the Army’s choices on what systems will participate in the NIE and provide detailed “score cards” to industry on how their technologies performed and what could be improved in the future. The Agile Process and Capability Set Management rely on industry to propose solutions to capability gaps, which the Army defines and updates on a regular basis to keep up with the pace of technology development. The Army is also using the NIEs to establish an integrated network baseline to ensure common standards for interoperability.

“We’re not building a radio, but we’re telling industry, ‘This is what the radio needs to do, and this is how it fits into the architecture, so this is what we need you to go build,'” said Jennifer Zbozny, chief engineer for PEO C3T. “So industry brings that piece of equipment. and the government is taking all those products and building the glue to make those things work together.”

Built as part of the recent Base Realignment and Closure move of Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, known as C4ISR, organizations to Maryland, the laboratories are linked through direct fiber optic connectivity – creating an integrated environment for government and industry to measure system performance and interoperability. The facilities that support the NIE, Agile Process and capability set fielding include settings focused on tactical radios, satellite communications, intelligence, mission command applications and the integration of C4ISR equipment onto various vehicle platforms.

For NIE 12.2, for example, more than 100 system candidate white papers were submitted to APG labs operated by the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, or CERDEC, during Phase 1 of the Agile Process. Of those, less than half were selected to participate in the lab tests in Phase 2. Following these evaluations, another smaller subset of vendor systems were approved to participate in the actual NIE, officials said.

“We’re now spending a lot more time on the earlier phases of that Agile Process, doing the candidate assessments and integration before it actually goes out to NIE,” said Seth Spoenlein, lab director for CERDEC. “The campus here at APG provides an integrated look at what that network will be not just for NIE, but also for capability set fielding.”

Some of the lab resources will continue to be built out and improve for future NIEs, including 13.1 this fall, Morrison said.

“We are nine months into executing the NIE construct, and it is a maturing process,” he said. “We have turned this ship very quickly.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines May 29, 2015

News: U.S. Army chief opens door to embedding U.S. troops with Iraqi forcesĀ - After the fall of Ramadi, the Iraqi Security Forces need military and political leadership, Gen. Raymond Odierno says.   Business: No acquisition strategy yet for LCS frigatesĀ - Details of the new Littoral Combat Ship frigate program’s acquisition strategy are still being reviewed,...
 
 

News Briefs May 29, 2015

Finnish navy: Underwater intruder possible foreign submarine Finnish military officials say that an underwater object the navy chased last month in territorial waters and dropped several depth charges could have been a foreign submarine. A navy investigation released May 28 says that technical analysis did not provide sufficient proof of the presence of a submarine...
 
 
Lockheed Martin photograph by Chad Bellay

F-16 test pilots hit the ‘road’ to help train USAFE pilots

Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Kyla Gifford Three F-16s assigned to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, on a refueling mission last year. Two F-16 test pilots from the 416th Flight Test Squadron recently returned from a &#...
 

 
Navy photograph

Its reign in the fleet over, naval Sea King helicopter now rests at Pax Museum

Navy photograph At more than 54 feet in length with a 62-foot rotor diameter, the mighty SH-3A Sea King helicopter sits in its final spot at the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum. Designed as an anti-submarine warfare helicopter,...
 
 
boeing-korea

New Boeing Avionics Facility to enhance ROKAF readiness, affordability

Boeing formally opened a new avionics maintenance and repair center in the Yeongcheon Industry District of Daegu-Gyeongbuk Free Economic Zone May 28. The 10,000 square-foot facility will test and repair aircraft electrical syst...
 
 
Navy photograph by John F. Williams

ONR testing high-speed planing hulls

Navy photograph by John F. Williams A ship hull model attached to a high-speed sled moves through waves at the David Taylor Model Basin at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock, during Office of Naval Research -sponsored rese...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>