Army shows off very first WIN-T production vehicles

Military trade shows tend to have many prototypes and models of future systems and equipment. But it’s rare to see the finished product after years of development and mockups.

The equipment in question are two initial production models for Increment 2 of the Army’s Warfighter Information Network-Tactical on display at the AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington. The WIN-T systems are housed in armored mine-resistant combat vehicles and intended to provide support down to the company level.

WIN-T is the Army’s battlefield networking and communications system, linking together fixed command posts with ground vehicles and dismounted troops into a single overarching network. Increment 1, which is being deployed to Army forces, consists of satellite, radio and data links that operate when set up in a tactical command post or forward operating base.

Increment 2 takes this capability off the road. The vehicles will participate in the fall Network Integration Exercise held in late October and early November at Fort Bliss, Texas, and the nearby White Sands Missile Range, N.M.

At the fall 2011 NIE, known as 12.1, the WIN-T vehicles will mainly undergo training and troubleshooting tests, to allow the program to work out any bugs in the system’s development, said Army Lt. Col. Robert Collins, product manager for the Program Manager WIN-T Increment 2-3, on October 10. It will also be used to test instrumentation and equipment performance, he said.

The main event for the WIN-T systems will be the NIE 12.2 in the spring of 2012. It will also serve as the initial operational test and evaluation period for the Increment 2 systems. The fall event also looks at ease of application and how well soldiers use it. “We’re not using contract operators and simulation, we’re actually using real soldiers battle command applications,” Collins said.

A total of 13 vehicles will be equipped with high-capacity WIN-T communications equipment. The vehicles are a mix of final production versions, with the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) Ground Mobile Radio radio and “bridge” models equipped with the Harris 117-G radios running JTRS waveforms.

“This is production stuff,” Collins said. He noted that besides the initial set of 13 vehicles, the majority of the equipment sets are not for use on signals vehicles, but systems designed to be installed on dedicated combat platforms such as M-1 Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles.

A full brigade would be equipped with 33 of the Solider Network Extension-C (for company level) WIN-T equipped vehicles. The vehicles are equipped with 18-inch satellite dishes housed in small domes on the vehicle’s roofs, which provide the on-the-move communications capability beyond the range of their onboard radios.

About the Author

Henry Kenyon is a contributing writer for Defense Systems.

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