Smooth Sailing Expected for U.S. Navy Fleet Communications Program

By Greg Giaquinto, Electronic Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Over the next 10 years, the U.S. Navy will spend about $149 million on its Fleet Communications R&D program.  Driving this funding is the Navy’s desire for up-to-date telecommunications systems and technology.

The Fleet Communications program researches and develops new communications systems for Navy surface ships, submarines, aircraft, and shore stations.  The program consists of the Communications Automation project, which provides for automation and communications upgrades for Fleet tactical users.  The project works on the following:

  • Battle Force Tactical Network
  • Joint Aerial Layer Network – Maritime
  • Automated Digital Network System

According to a U.S. Navy budget document, the Battle Force Tactical Network (BFTN) on each surface, subsurface, air, or fixed U.S. Navy platform uses previously installed line of sight (LOS)/extended line-of-sight (ELOS) radios (aka radio frequency [RF]) to create a secure gateway that interconnects all users into a common RF tactical network (aka wireless). This network separately supports U.S.‑only and allied/coalition users’ tactical data information exchanges on each platform (node) between and/or across separately dispersed RF networks even if satcom channels to shore are lost during an Anti‑Access Area Denial (A2AD) event.

The Joint Aerial Layer Network-Maritime (JALN-M) is the Navy implementation of the JALN architecture, which provides assured communications in any environment, especially A2AD.  With disruption or loss of Space-tier communications, JALN-M establishes and/or restores connectivity within the High-Capacity Backbone (HCB) tier, the Distribution Access Range Extension (DARE) tier, and the Transition tier in accordance with the JALN Initial Capabilities Document and the JALN Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) Final Report.  JALN-M is a robust, assured communications capability providing joint connectivity via the HCB and Navy platform connectivity via a pseudo-satellite DARE capability.  JALN-M will use the eXtended Data Rate (XDR) waveform for intra-battle group communications and a common datalink (CDL) waveform for the HCB cross-link capability, and will leverage enhanced UHF/HF waveforms for coalition connectivity.

The Automated Digital Network System (ADNS) is the method by which tactical Navy units transfer Internet Protocol (IP) data to Navy and Department of Defense communities on the Global Information Grid (GIG). ADNS is the gateway to technical Wide Area Network (WAN) afloat for IP network operations, supporting information dissemination and external connectivity. ADNS allows services and applications to interconnect to the Defense Information Systems Network (DISN) ashore via multiple RF resources and pier connectivity.

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