JTRS Network Enterprise Domain expands waveform

By Barry Rosenberg-Macaulay

 The JTRS Network Enterprise Domain (NED) program office, which is responsible for managing the JTRS waveforms (old and new), is transitioning from software development to sustainment and enhancement of the networking capabilities that have been delivered so far. All of the 14 legacy waveforms and two of the three networking waveforms have completed formal qualifications testing and have been integrated in the various JTRS platforms.

“We are putting into place an ability to sustain that capability as well as enhance the software,” said Navy CAPT Jeff Hoyle, JTRS NED program manager. “One of the tremendous advantages of software defined radios is that we have the ability to add capability to deployed systems already out there strictly through software enhancements. We’re putting into place the ability to do exactly that for our networking waveform products: the Wideband Networking Waveform (WNW), the Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW) and the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) waveform, as well as 14 different legacy waveforms (Ultra High Frequency Satellite Communication (UHF SATCOM), Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS), Enhanced Position Location Reporting System (EPLRS), Link 16 and others) in order to maintain current force interoperability.

NED is also responsible for network manager and enterprise network services software products which provide planning, monitoring, over-the-air reconfiguration and routing/retransmission capabilities for all Joint Tactical Radios. The two networking waveforms that have completed qualification testing are SRW and WNW. The SRW waveform has been integrated into the JTRS Ground Mobile Radio (GMR) and the JTRS Rifleman and Manpack Radios (Handheld, Manpack and Small Form Fit). NED is also enhancing SRW so that it can handle telemetry operations for unmanned aerial/ground vehicles, specifically the Class I Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV). The waveform hasn’t been used for that type of mission before.

“We are focused on our PEO Integration customer who has a need for simultaneous control and video feeds from unmanned ground and air vehicles, so we’re adding that capability to the Soldier Radio Waveform to better support telemetry operations,” said Hoyle. “The primary focus is on video, and the small unmanned ground vehicle and the Class I UAV both have the capture of video data as their main mission.


“The idea is to take SRW and all it capabilities and use that to not only control the vehicle but to download the imagery from the SUGV or the UAV. There are very specific bandwidth requirements for the video product, and that is what we are modifying SRW to accommodate. That is significant because we are doing it with software and not affecting the hardware.”

Also, the prior waveforms used for video transmission are not sufficiently secure and private, whereas the SRW product was built and validated with the proper security features necessary to ensure that communications routing through the UAV from the air to the ground are encrypted and secure.

The field test for airborne telemetry operations over SRW is planned for December 2010.

Optimized for the Network
On a simultaneous track has been WNW, which completed qualification testing in December of 2009. The major test of WNW over a JTRS radio (in this case it was the Ground Mobile Radio) took place this past summer and fall during a scheduled Ground Mobile Radio Systems Integration Test (SIT) at the Electronic Proving Grounds at Fort Huachuca in Arizona. The SIT was the first real test to be controlled by the federal government (specifically the Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC)), as opposed to the contractor. Up to this point, the contractor was in charge of all testing.

The test had two parts. The first focused on developmental testing to make sure the waveforms and the systems do what they were supposed to do from a design standpoint. The second part was the operational aspect, where Soldiers and Marines went through operational vignettes with the radio, conducting different tactical operation scenarios to shake out the functionality of the system.

In addition to the GMR SIT, both WNW and SRW were exercised as part of this summer’s Brigade Combat Team Integration Exercise at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. “The Brigade Combat Team Integration Exercise was our first opportunity to take JTRS capabilities such as WNW and SRW, and integrate those in a holistic manner with other communications systems such as the Warfigher Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) to provide a true, integrated network from the Soldiers in the field at White Sands back to brigade headquarters, and even farther back via a live feed of those activities to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland,” said Hoyle. “That was the first time a large level of JTRS capability was integrated into a Brigade Combat Team architecture, and we showed how powerful it can be when we can come together with WIN-T, PEO Integration, PEO Aviation and others in the Army to make it work.”

The difference between WNW and SRW is how they are optimized for different points in the network.

“The Solider Radio Waveform is optimized for the most disadvantaged user,” said Hoyle. “You want something small the Soldier can carry on his back or hold in his hand, or, in the case of the Class I UAV, you want a small device that is something on the order of a hockey puck in size. What that means is that the Solider Radio Waveform doesn’t have the same bandwidth capabilities that the Wideband Networking Waveform has, nor does it have the ability to reach back to the GIG because it lacks the standards and protocols that are built into the WNW.”

WNW has another important feature that helps to optimize the overall network, which is the managing of advantaged nodes within the network. An advantaged node would likely be airborne and have better communications sightlines over a battlefield than a node on the ground.

“You have to be careful about not creating bottlenecks in the network, which is what would happen if you did not have some sophisticated algorithms to keep everyone from trying to send their communications traffic through an advantaged node, as would be the case. WNW has specific features to prevent that, while SRW does not. But SRW works in concert with the features WNW provides so users can optimize the overall architecture of the network.”

The third networking waveform is MUOS. Where the WNW and SRW waveforms operate over line-of-sight and transition to an airborne tier when line-of-sight is lost, MUOS provides the satellite reach back to anywhere in the world.

MUOS is a planned constellation of five satellites to support a worldwide, multi-service population of users in the narrowband. The system is designed to support users that require greater mobility, higher data rates and improved operational availability, and will provide greater than 10 times the system capacity of the current narrowband constellation. Launch of the first satellite is scheduled for the summer of 2011.

“The MUOS waveform software is where we come in, and it is our responsibility to ensure it meets all of its functional JTRS standards and that the waveform can be integrated into the terminals,” said Hoyle. “There are many concurrent developments, and we are managing that with the MUOS-JTRS Management Council which consists of four program offices. We’re not fielding any capabilities today where only one program manager has responsibility for everything. PM’s have to work together to field capability that will be useful to the Warfighter. So we’re finding ways to stay aligned thoughout the product development, deployment and sustainment lifecycle.”

The Network Manager
Each waveform today has its own network manger so that any radio with an SRW or WNW capability, for example, can be managed by that particular waveform’s network manager. What that means is that the SRW Network Manager, for example, is not just for JTRS program of record radios. It will also be available to vendors that want to port the SRW waveform to their own radios under their own internal research and development programs.

Now, NED is taking those separate network managers and integrating them into a single network manager that is called the JTRS Enterprise Network Manager. This is important because JPEO JTRS does not want to proliferate the number of tools that it delivers to the Warfighter.

The primary technical challenge in building the network managers is making sure they are secure.

“Network management is a tradeoff between capability and security,” said Hoyle. “There are lots of capability that can be added to the system, but we have to look closely at how those other tools affect the network and radio.”

Like the networking waveforms, the network managers are installed in the JTRS Information Repository. There they are available to military developers and private industry to port into a variety of different radios.

“The network manager is another product that the Network Enterprise Domain office delivers, and that software goes into the information repository to be maintained and enhanced over time,” said Hoyle. “We think that is an important part of what we do, which is providing the ability to rapidly enhance these capabilities over time. We believe WNW, SRW and the accompanying network managers provide significant new communications capabilities for the warfighter that can be further enhanced rapidly and affordably over time.”

In particular, that benefit is the ability to stay communicating without a line-of-site connection between any two individual nodes via the mobile ad-hoc networking nature of JTRS.

Said Hoyle: “We are creating a true network similar to how the Internet works. I don’t need to have a direct connection to any end user to send that person an email. I can just let the network figure out the best route. The system routes to as many different radios as required to get to the end state. It’s smart enough to figure out the best possible route given the topology at any given time on the network. Mobile ad-hoc networking gives us a true networking capability to change the way we fight.”