Sunday, October 31, 2010

US Military Use Google Android

The U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) is asking industry for a Google Android, Internet and web technology for the "Tactical Situational Awareness Application Suite" (TactSA). This is to provide a peer-to-peer wireless network, moving map display, instant messaging, chat, multicast file transfer, whiteboarding and video in a device small enough for a soldier to carry.

The system will use Internet protocols and XML. While not mentioned, HTML5 would be an obvious inclusion. Ironically, responses to USSOCOM must be provided in Adobe Acrobat or Microsoft Word format (XML and HTML not accepted).

It should be noted that US special forces have some latitude to select their own equipment so this solicitation does not necessarily indicate that the rest of the US military will do the same. While not mentioned in the solicitation, one area the Android based system could assist with is in battery use, by rationalising the different devices currently used. This approach could be taken further by using the approach of the French Fantassin à Équipement et Liaisons Intégrés (FÉLIN), which treats the solider like a sensor platform and equipping them with a data and power network, for the devices they carry.

Sources Sought
Added: Oct 21, 2010 11:03 am
Tactical Situational Awareness (TactSA) Application Suite

USSOCOM is seeking sources with the demonstrated capability to engineer a Tactical Situational Awareness (TactSA) software suite that will provide reliable and standardized data between battery operated micro-computers over Mobile Ad hoc Wireless Networks (MANETs). The data will traverse peer-to-peer networks without centralized servers or syncs. It will consist of numerous video streams, file transfers, Position Location Information (PLI), and whiteboarding collaboration tools.
TactSA display Application: Currently SOF has a FalconView-based SA display tool that provides the necessary capability on Windows platforms. Due to the shift in commercial hardware to mobile, battery powered systems, it is necessary to extend the SA capabilities to lighter devices that utilize the Android operating system. With the standardized data structure design described below, the user requires the ability to transition from a windows based system running FalconView to an Android based system running the TactSA display. The computing device will be connected to a GFE MANET dismount radio via USB or Ethernet. The TactSA display shall be the core moving map display for the display of all information available on the network.
Sub Applications: Additional applications and features are necessary to launch from the TactSA display that also utilize the tools, structures, protocols and mechanisms identified below for peer-to-peer networks. In addition to the dynamic SA mapping application the vendor must provide a chat application (Instant Message and chat room), reliable multicast file transfer, multi-touch whiteboarding aka John Madden tool, and ability to display multiple H.264/MPEG 4 video streams individually and simultaneously. These applications shall also recover from network outages and substantial packet loss.
Application reliability: At present many applications are developed for wired networks that do not handle network outages and retransmissions well. They rely on TCP, which has been proven not to be well suited for wireless networks. The government requires that fault tolerance be built into the TactSA, Chat, PLI and file transfer applications. The overall solution should be light enough for ultra mobile personal computers and tablet systems that cannot buffer large amounts of data. It shall provide an automatic data structure repair.
Reliable Multicast: The tactical MANET shall consist of at least two MANET networks connected via a commercial router. At any point each MANET must function independently to transfer the data seamlessly to the end client devices. As data flows within one over to the other network, packet-loss due to RF effects will occur. It is necessary to provide a Durability and Retransmission mechanism for application reliability. Such a protocol shall provide end-to-end reliable transport of data streams over generic IP multicast routing and forwarding services as described in RFC 5740. Due to the real-time nature of the data, multicast dissemination is critical to the effective use of the networks.
Application security: Although the radio systems provide encryption capability over the air, it is necessary to provide a second layer of security at the application layer. Third party VPN/IPsec technologies do not natively support multicast and do not provide peer-to-peer topologies. The encryption scheme shall utilize Suite B algorithms for protecting the data prior to traversing outside of the computational device. The approach shall have to be explained and designed for Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) accreditation for FIPS PUB 197.
Data structure: Due to numerous Graphic Information System (GIS) display applications it is necessary to utilize RFC validated protocols and extensible markup languages such as XML and derivatives to standardize the data. The objective capability is a seamless data architecture that delivers the network traffic to numerous GIS display technologies such as FalconView and Google Earth. The structure will be defined in a document as well as implemented in the TactSA suite.
Demonstrated capability to perform the work described (such as tangible examples, experience or past performance) are more desirable than novel approaches, although both will be given due consideration. No format for the response is specified and no questions will be answered. Please limit the technical approach to ten (10) pages and the entire submission (including supporting information) shall not exceed thirty (30) pages. Only electronic submissions in Adobe Acrobat 8.0 (or higher) or Microsoft Word (1997-2007) will be accepted (no hard copies). Potential sources must possess an active Facility Clearance (FCL) or be eligible to obtain an FCL at the SECRET level. ...

From: "Tactical Situational Awareness Application Suite" (TactSA), U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), 21 October 2010

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