Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Flying Military Internet

ABCCC Crew Compartment (Wikipedia Photo)The US military is considering using a converted business jet as a flying Internet node, for relaying data from F-22 stealth fighters to other aircraft. The sensors could even be accessed using a mobile phone size terminal on the ground:
Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC), under two recently awarded contracts, will continue to enhance and expand the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN), a forward-deployed airborne communications relay and network-centric enterprise information server that allows real-time information exchanges among many different, distant military and commercial communications systems.

The U.S. Department of Defense recently awarded the two contracts to Northrop Grumman: BACN Spiral Technical Phase II, a 16-month, $25 million contract for continuing development, and the Intraflight Datalink Gateway System, a 24-month, $8.5 million contract to integrate a data link allowing the F-22 Raptor to communicate with other platforms. ...

"BACN is the linchpin that integrates the Air Force's ConstellationNet to a global network capable of connecting users to the Global Information Grid. That network-centric system will give our warfighters access to information when and where they need it," said Mike Twyman, vice president of Northrop Grumman Mission Systems' communication and information systems business unit.

The Global Information Grid is the U.S. military's Internet-like network.

During JEFX 2006, BACN demonstrated the capability to provide, in operational conditions, fully-secured critical digital battlefield and voice information directly to airborne and ground units and command centers. JEFX was conducted April 21 to 28 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. ...

BACN provides a high-speed, Internet protocol (IP)-based airborne network infrastructure that supports seamless movement of imagery, video, voice and digital messages between disparate tactical data and IP networks, giving warfighters access to integrated, shared information and increasing collaboration. The waveforms supported include
single-channel ground and airborne radio system (SINCGARS), demand assigned multiple access (DAMA), enhanced position location reporting system (EPLRS)/situation awareness data link (SADL), Link 16, and IP-based networking connectivity using tactical targeting network technology, tactical common data link and 802.11b waveforms.

BACN also provides voice relay and bridging among different tactical and cellular voice systems. This cell phone-to-radio bridging would allow, for example, Special Operations Forces using a cell phone to call directly into a fighter cockpit for targeting information. It would also enable police and fire units to talk with ambulances and the National
Guard during a civil emergency. BACN employs a revolutionary capability developed by Northrop Grumman for the Joint Forces Command, the joint translator/forwarder, to accomplish digital-message transformation. ...

From: Northrop Grumman Continues to Expand Airborne Communications System; Phase II, F-22 Datalink Contracts Awarded, Global Security, Oct. 18, 2006
Battle Field Airborne Communications Node (BACN) was originally intended to work with UAVs:
The Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) is a military prototype for a remotely accessed, high altitude, and tactically oriented communications and networking node intended for use on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Initiated in December of 2005, it has four main components: ...

BACN is currently flying on a NASA flown, WB-57 aircraft while it transitions to a Gulfstream G500/G550 aircraft for future operations.

Battle Field Airborne Communications Node (BACN), Wikipedia, 2007

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