While operational commanders try to target an elusive enemy from the air over Iraq and Syria, senior U.S. commanders and aerospace academics are wrestling with an associated question: how to take advantage of tremendous advances in information networking to prosecute modern air campaigns. During the recent Air Force Association (AFA) conference, the shortcomings of current military air systems networking were explored in some frank comments during a panel session entitled “The Combat Cloud,” and in other discourse.
Joint Tactical Radio System
The U.S. Army plans to acquire up to 7,000 advanced, “software-defined” radios for its helicopters in a successor program to the disbanded Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) effort. In a recent notice, the service said it will issue draft performance requirements for the Small Airborne Networking Radio (SANR) program this month, followed by a draft request for proposals in the summer.
When Rockwell Collins officially celebrated the first full-rate production delivery of its ARC-210 RT-1939(C) Generation 5 radio to PMA 209, the air combat electronics program office of the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command in late April, it marked a milestone.
It would take a miracle–in fact, two miracles–for network-centric operations (NCO) to become a reality. So says John Allen of the Advanced Technology Office at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA). Many companies in the defense industry claim to offer solutions for NCO, but only a few have demonstrated even minor miracles in the field.