Enabling distributed coalition intelligence at the tactical edge

Sharing more than just voice communications is the new minimum requirement for tactical battlefield operations.

Sharing more than just voice communications is the new minimum requirement for tactical battlefield operations.

As coalition operations become the new norm in modern combat operations, the challenges around integrating communications can lead to delays that an opponent can take advantage of. While some traditional major alliances, such as NATO, have brought together common standards and operational doctrine, coalitions that comprise ad hoc partnerships rely more heavily on industry partners providing technology and processes that can be easily adapted to operational realities.

As a result, there are some key areas that a communication system needs to address when dealing with data transfers for battle management systems. Systematic’s SitaWare Tactical Communication protocols allow the easy flow of information across tactical networks and with allies, made easier with the common deployment of the SitaWare Frontline and SitaWare Edge battle management systems (BMSs) for on-the-ground commanders. Delivering this operational intelligence to tactical users helps with the execution of missions by greatly reducing risks and enables better on-the-fly planning.

When working with a BMS, the ability to operate in electronically contested environments, working across multiple gateway interfaces, and protecting classified data from oversharing are major tasks for a communications backbone and BMS.

Operating in contested environments: As the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) becomes more contested in the tactical battlespace, the ability to communicate and share data is increasingly hard. Delivering a recognised intelligence picture, blue force tracking, and track management capability can be degraded through enemy jamming of GNSS signals and communications.

For users of SitaWare Frontline and SitaWare Edge, using SitaWare Tactical Communication means they are able to use a communications backbone that enjoys very high levels of redundancy in high latency and low bandwidth environments, and a prioritised messaging system that can deliver formatted messages to users easily. The messaging prioritisation system means that if connections are lost or severely degraded, the most important messages are delivered first when connectivity is restored.

Deploying data exchange gateways: Operating across a coalition means that there is an element of standardisation in communications technology, however not all radios are created equal. As a result, the need to exchange data across different bandwidths, protocols, and channels, can become increasingly complex. SitaWare Tactical Communication is network and radio agnostic and uses data exchange gateways to ensure the right data gets to the right user in the right format. With over 15 different data gateways to choose from, transferring data across the battlespace is made much simpler. For coalition nations which both operate the SitaWare Frontline and SitaWare Edge BMS, data exchange is greatly simplified through the deployment of SitaWare Tactical Communication, which can roll out readily configured capabilities and pathways for network users.

Protecting sensitive data: Working in a coalition environment means that some data, sensor outputs, or sensor locations may need to be kept discrete. However, to continue sharing to a lower classification level, delivery of data through an automated one-way diode process means that RIPs can be shared between users across a coalition at a common classification level and refreshed automatically at a pre-determined rate. For users of SitaWare Frontline and SitaWare Edge, this is simplified by the use of the SitaWare Tactical Communication protocol and its data exchange gateways ensure that only appropriately vetted data is shared between coalition partners.

Want to know more about tactical data communication networks? Check out Systematic’s ebook “12 pitfalls to avoid in tactical data communication for battle management systems” for more areas to consider on tactical data communication.

You can also read about how the New Zealand Army uses SitaWare to create time and space for mounted and dismounted commanders.

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