PEO C3T Program Review & Vision Guide

WIN-T Increment 2 Steps Closer to the Field with Milestone C 

By Amy Walker, Symbolic Systems, Inc., supporting PEO C3T

Just as a Blackberry network enables business managers to stay connected out of the office, so, too, will Warfighter Information Network-Tactical Increment 2 (WIN-T Inc 2) enable commanders on-the-move to stay connected to the digitized systems they use to plan the battle.

“WIN-T Increment 2 will allow commanders to get into a vehicle, drive from their command post to another location, and stay connected so they can continue to command and control the unit,” said Pat DeGroodt, acting deputy product manager of WIN-T Increment 2.

On Feb. 3, WIN-T Inc 2 stepped closer to the field when the Defense Acquisition Board approved a Milestone C Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) decision. The approval will enable the procurement of equipment and allow the program to move forward to Initial Operational Test (IOT) in first quarter fiscal year 2012, with the first unit equipped expected to be at the end of second quarter of fiscal year 2012.

“It is a big deal to get a Milestone C,” DeGroodt said. “We had a good bit of support around the table from many different sectors and I think they all see Increment 2 as a big improvement to Army capability.”

Before the onset of satellite technology, communications on the battlefield required the installation of relay towers and fiber optic cables, limiting range and flexibility of missions. Line-of-sight systems were often located on top of hills, which tactically was not the optimum position to deploy soldiers, DeGroodt said. In the initial march to Baghdad, communications systems could not keep up with the soldier's pace, for example. Units were moving so fast that there wasn't enough time to tear down, move, and reset communications systems before soldiers who needed the support had moved out of range.

WIN-T Increment 1 was developed as an immediate response to 2001's Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and 2003's Operation Iraqi Freedom need for beyond-line-of-sight communications. WIN-T Increment 2 on-the-move capability will increase speed of maneuver on the battlefield and allow soldiers and commanders to stay connected at all times.

“As long as you have a clear line-of-sight to the southern sky, you can connect to the network,” DeGroodt said.

While WIN-T Increment 1 provides satellite communications at the quick halt to the battalion level and above warfighter, Increment 2 will bring the initial on-the-move capability to those at the company level. It will also provide a line-of-sight radio and the Highband Networking Waveform (HNW) radio, which will greatly increase line-of-sight capacity, allowing
soldiers to operate both on-the-move and at the halt. 

Now that the funding has been released for LRIP, Project Manager, WIN-T can start producing the equipment and further test it in the field.

“We've been very focused on research and development and that's a different mentality from having to produce and reproduce the same level of performance for every unit that we have to field,” DeGroodt said. 

With its line-of-sight HNW radio, WIN-T Increment 2 will have a ground tier of communications, and will also provide a space tier that utilizes satellite connections with the Net Centric Waveform (NCW). Looking forward, WIN-T Increment 3, which is still in development, will then provide the air tier utilizing the HNW radio mounted on unmanned aircraft. The warfighter will then possess a three-tiered communication network providing connectivity for the full spectrum of operations.

It is possible that the air tier piece could be fielded as a technology insertion into Increment Two in fiscal year 2015.

To accelerate this capability to the field as soon as possible, PM WIN-T is working on the development of the JC4ISR radio, and it is also working closely with PM Unmanned Aircraft Systems to integrate and test radios on unmanned aircraft.