Graham Warwick / Washington DC

A large-scale test of a new wideband, internet-based network has been conducted over the Nellis range in the USA’s Nevada desert.

During the Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment (JEFX) ‘06, several aircraft and ground nodes used the developmental Tactical Targeting Network Technology (TTNT) datalink to exchange imagery, text chat and voice communications using standard internet protocol (IP).

The exercise focused on time-critical targeting and demonstrated the use of combat aircraft to perform “non-traditional” intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) using their on-board sensors.

Using TTNT, Boeing F-15s and F/A-18s sent target imagery back to the combined air and space operations centre (CAOC), or directly to strike aircraft such as the Rockwell B-1.

“It was all done machine-to-machine. Operators did not have to key in the targets,” says George Muellner, president Boeing Advanced Systems. The time taken to generate target information from fighter sensors, get it to the CAOC and out to the strike aircraft was reduced to “single-digit minutes”, he adds.

Non-traditional ISR played a key role in the exercise, which was “a fairly successful demonstration of TTNT”, says Muellner. “This exercise stressed the network, and with the exception of bandwidth use in chat conferences, it performed pretty well.” A Rockwell Collins-led team is developing TTNT as the next-generation tactical datalink to follow the widely used, but narrowband Link 16.

TTNT was also fitted to a Boeing E-3 airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft – the first time it had been modified with wideband capability. This enabled the aircraft to connect into the Department of Defense’s IP-based global information grid. Boeing also used JEFX ‘06 to test its Directional Networking Waveform (DNW), a higher-throughput, longer-range link under development for large platforms such as AWACS.

“TTNT is a broadcast waveform for end-game shooters,” says Muellner. “DNW is directional and very high throughput – greater than 25Mb/s – and is used to move information about between AWACS, JSTARS and the CAOC.” DNW works over longer distances and is less susceptible to detection and jamming, he adds.

Source: Flight International