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Special Report

Next Generation Aircraft Data Links and System Integration Solutions Meeting the Technical and Commercial Challenges of Mission Critical Data Delivery Trends in Tactical Data Links in 21st Century Warfare Delivering Interoperability as Data Links Modernise Procurement and Tactical Data Link Systems Links from the Past to the Future

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Published by Global Business Media


Delivering Mission Critical Data, Voice and Video Securely Across the Network

Ultra Electronics Limited is a leading independent supplier of ITAR free electronic sub-systems and network solutions for Platforms and Infrastructure. We ensure the secure network delivery of mission critical data to Defence, Aerospace and Security Providers via deployed systems around the world today.

Ultra has been working in partnership to deliver flexible secure network products and systems for airborne, naval and land platforms for over 50 years. Our solutions provide real time provision and dissemination of secure Tactical data (Link-11, 16, 22 and VMF) and Full Motion Video. We also offer Platform Command & Control and Voice Communications across the battlespace.

Securely Protecting and Delivering Mission Critical Information Globally

MISSION CRITICAL SECURE NETWORKS AND SYSTEMS Ultra Electronics Limited COMMUNICATION & INTEGRATED SYSTEMS Bridport Road, Greenford Middlesex, UB6 8UA England Tel: +44 (0)20 8813 4720


SPECIAL REPORT

Next Generation Aircraft Data Links and System Integration Solutions Meeting the Technical and Commercial Challenges of Mission Critical Data Delivery

SPECIAL REPORT: NEXT GENERATION AIRCRAFT DATA LINKS AND SYSTEM INTEGRATION SOLUTIONS

Contents

Trends in Tactical Data Links in 21st Century Warfare Delivering Interoperability as Data Links Modernise Procurement and Tactical Data Link Systems Links from the Past to the Future

Foreword

2

Mary Dub, Editor

Meeting the Technical and Commercial Challenges of Mission Critical Data Delivery

3

Karen Parnell, Head of Business Development & Marketing, Ultra CIS and Paul Haylett, Business Development Manager, Ultra CIS Sponsored by

Published by Global Business Media

Published by Global Business Media

The Role of Tactical Data Links Technical and Commercial Challenges Meeting Situational Awareness Needs of Modern Forces Conclusions Contacts

Global Business Media Limited 62 The Street Ashtead Surrey KT21 1AT United Kingdom

Trends in Tactical Data Links in 21st Century Warfare 6

Switchboard: +44 (0)1737 850 939 Fax: +44 (0)1737 851 952 Email: info@globalbusinessmedia.org Website: www.globalbusinessmedia.org

United States and British Intelligence Assessments Agree on the Current High Level of Risk of Cyber Attack The History of Today’s Modern Tactical Data Links LINK 16’s Capabilities How is a LINK 16 Tactical Data Link Achieved?

Publisher Kevin Bell Business Development Director Marie-Anne Brooks Editor Mary Dub Senior Project Manager Steve Banks Advertising Executives Michael McCarthy Abigail Coombes Production Manager Paul Davies For further information visit: www.globalbusinessmedia.org The opinions and views expressed in the editorial content in this publication are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily represent the views of any organisation with which they may be associated. Material in advertisements and promotional features may be considered to represent the views of the advertisers and promoters. The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily express the views of the Publishers or the Editor. While every care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, neither the Publishers nor the Editor are responsible for such opinions and views or for any inaccuracies in the articles.

© 2012. The entire contents of this publication are protected by copyright. Full details are available from the Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner.

Mary Dub, Editor

Delivering Interoperability as Data Links Modernise

8

Don McBarnet, Staff Writer

The Hurdle of Encryption How MIDS Achieves Interoperability The Benefits of the MIDS System: Fratricide Prevention Interoperability Issues Between NATO and the United States The United Kingdom Joins the MIDS System COTS and Costs and Delay

Procurement and Tactical Data Link Systems

10

Mary Dub, Editor

Suggested Weakness of Link 16 Nation States Wish to Protect Their Own High Technology Defence Industries Managing UAS Systems in a Tactical Data Linked Network The Problem Lies in Communications Failure Northrop Grumman’s CLIP system

Links from the Past to the Future

12

Meredith Llewellyn, Lead Contributor

The Future is FAST DARPA at the Forefront of New Thinking on Communication Operation Unified Protector over Libya 2011: A Case Study in Link 16 Civilian/Military Cooperation

References 14

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SPECIAL REPORT: NEXT GENERATION AIRCRAFT DATA LINKS AND SYSTEM INTEGRATION SOLUTIONS

Foreword W

hether on Responsibility to Protect,

interoperability issue. This on-going saga of

Humanitarian or Counter Insurgency

confusion and misunderstanding is being

campaigns, effective encrypted data links are

tackled by new agreements and protocols.

the critical means of communication between

However, despite the best efforts of men,

commanders and platforms. The leading edge

women and talented software engineers,

companies in the market to produce these high

confusion across national and service barriers

technology products are constantly innovating to

relating to the nature of inter-operability will remain

reduce costs and overcome operational problems.

an on-going challenge.

This Special Report takes a look at the high priority world of Tactical Data Links (TDL).

The procurement of any defense item is always influenced by factors other than the excellence of

The opening article describes TDL and how they

the product. There are national defence industry

are used by military and other organisations to

interests to protect, budget constraints as well as

maintain a common situational picture among

key weaknesses in current systems that need to be

participants in an operational area. The need for

mitigated. The fourth piece looks at the interplay of

a dual secure national and international capability

these factors in the market for enhanced tactical

is driving Military End Users towards considering

data links.

development of an independent national datalink

The case study of Operation Unified Protector in

network to operate alongside the internationally

Libya 2011 provides a useful example of how well

recognised tactical datalink networks needed

tactical data links do actually work on operation

for allied operations. At the same time, budget

in an ad hoc coalition. Yet while systems prove

constraints are driving the need to extend

themselves in the field, highly skilled engineers are

operational life of platforms and equipment, as

developing new products that will revolutionise the

well as increasing their flexibility.

world of military communication in the next decade.

Why are TDL of such high priority? The answer

The final article looks at what might still be a work

is explained in the second article, which looks at

in progress on an electronic engineer’s computer.

reliable intelligence reports of the rising levels of threat to networked information. The third piece by Don McBarnet cuts through the layers of complexity that complicate the

Mary Dub Editor

Mary Dub covers the defence field in the United States and the UK as a television broadcaster, journalist and conference manager.

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SPECIAL REPORT: NEXT GENERATION AIRCRAFT DATA LINKS AND SYSTEM INTEGRATION SOLUTIONS

Meeting the Technical and Commercial Challenges of Mission Critical Data Delivery Karen Parnell, Head of Business Development & Marketing, Ultra CIS and Paul Haylett, Business Development Manager, Ultra CIS

S

uccess of a mission is highly dependent on real time informational exchange and a full appreciation of surrounding situational awareness. Tactical data links have thus become a crucial part of the modern military. Tactical Data Links (TDL) are used by military and other organisations for the purpose of maintaining a common situational picture among participants in an operational area. When this is coupled with increased emphasis on network-centric warfare in recent years, military organisations around the world continue to upgrade their platforms with the latest tactical data-link (TDL) capabilities.

The Role of Tactical Data Links Tactical Datalinks (TDL) are a proven means of providing a secure network between allied forces for the purpose of sharing real time situational awareness data, in internationally recognised and standardised data formats. Tactical datalink networks successfully provide secure tactical data for both National requirements and International operations between Allied Forces. Their purpose is to securely provide real time situational awareness data, vital to inform the appropriate military response. These tactical datalink systems have been developed in internationally recognised and standardised data formats including Link-11 (now in the process of being replaced by Link-22), Link-16 and VMF, to ensure that interoperability between forces and their respective platforms and personnel can be managed and optimised. Sharing of real time data between allied forces to achieve the most up to date and vivid battle space picture is crucial. Integrated Type 1 High Grade Encryption and approved secure Encryption Key Management and Distribution have ensured the data being transmitted is protected, such that only those within the particular National or International

operational forces can understand and respond to the situational awareness provided by the particular tactical picture. All of these tactical datalink solutions have been developed to support varied operational needs of the particular Military End User including secure point-to-point communications, through to network interoperability, weapon control and beyond line of sight communications and operations.

Technical and Commercial Challenges As global integration of military communications continues to expand around the world, the demand is growing for both international interoperability and national operational security. This is often outside of the more traditional NATO and Allied communities, where many of these internationally developed tactical datalink solutions, were originally developed and implemented. This real need for a dual secure national and international capability is driving many emerging Military End Users towards considering development of both an independent national tactical datalink network to operate alongside the internationally recognised tactical datalink networks needed for allied operations. This provides many challenges both in questions of potential future interoperability between national and international datalink standards, the encryption system development and management of national and international encryption systems and keys, as well as practical availability worldwide of international (NATO) tactical datalink formats, as well as ITAR and FMS restrictions. Alongside this national and international operational need, many defence budgets around the world are being greatly reduced. This is driving the need for the extension of operational www.defenceindustryreports.com | 3


SPECIAL REPORT: NEXT GENERATION AIRCRAFT DATA LINKS AND SYSTEM INTEGRATION SOLUTIONS

Tactical Datalinks (TDL) remain a vital capability in providing secure network data communications between national and allied forces for the purpose of sharing real time situational awareness, in internationally recognised and standardised data formats.

life of both platforms and equipment as well as increasing the need for flexibility in a platform’s roles. Some countries are looking at revitalising older platforms and extending their in service lives by integrating the very latest communications and surveillance equipment. The growing operational need to switch tactical datalink types between operational platforms, as well as provide multi-link solutions on board a particular platform, raises a number of new challenges in the trade-off benefits between deployable “role on – roll off” solutions versus the fully integrated system. This “RoRo” approach can reduce costs as systems can be re-used on multiple platforms – no need to equip all platforms with identical kit. The growing need to provide multilink interoperability without impacting the very limited size, weight and power constraints, especially within existing airborne platforms, is driving solutions to minimise the number of equipments to deliver tactical datalink interoperability and provide flexibility in the hardware system to host different or multiple tactical datalink software formats. In hosting multiple datalink formats it is key to ensure that reliable and robust data forwarding between these formats is maintained.

Meeting Situational Awareness Needs of Modern Forces In recognising these technical and commercial challenges around the world, Ultra’s tactical datalink technology was initially developed to minimise the size, weight and power demands of the multiple LRU solution for Link-11 reducing it a single Line Replaceable Unit (LRU), qualified for airborne applications. This core solution, the “Multi Link Processor” (MLP), is a single ITAR Free ½ ATR LRU containing the flexibility to host single and multiple tactical datalink processing, modems and high grade encryption components behind a single common standard external interface. The MLP is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Multi Link Processor (MLP) single Line Replaceable Unit optimised to minimise size, weight and power demands. Supports Link 11, Link 16, Link 22 and VMF.

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The MLP provides a proven in-service and versatile solution to single or multiple tactical data link operations supporting Link 11, Link 16, Link 22, and VMF, as well as non NATO national tactical datalink software configurations. The flexibility of the LRU to operate in Ethernet, 1553, NTDS, ATDS, RS232, RS422, Audio & Satcom modes provides a unique capability to the User. The MLP interface is designed such that, irrespective of the combination of multiple TDL systems in operation, the User sees only a single external interface which can easily integrate into the wider mission system. Reducing defence budgets around the world and the growing need to provide greater flexibility across existing platforms is also a big issue. Ultra is working with its customer base and strong partner ecosystem to leverage its world leading MLP solutions as the core to a range of parallel solutions to support these needs: (i) P  roviding deployable multi-link solutions that can be configured to the individual platform mix of aircraft or operation whilst ensuring a single external interface (ii) Integrating both NATO standard and National standard tactical datalink systems to provide the necessary international allied interoperability as well as the national security networks for domestic operations (iii) E  xtending the tactical datalink solutions to provide complimentary secure video dissemination, platform command and control, surveillance and electronic warfare solutions within a single deployable mission system configuration to provide greater operational flexibility to the Platform and User. These systems can also extend the life of older platforms and give them a new lease of life. (iv) P  roviding deployable roll on roll off (RoRo) systems which combine both Ultra’s world class datalink products with partner solutions to provide the flexibility of multi-link national and international tactical data link networks. RoRo systems can be used across multiple platforms and thus save costs. The flexibility of these deployable TDL multi-link systems is further enhanced with complimentary technologies including video acquisition and dissemination, platform command and control and Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) networks and electronic warfare (EW) solutions. The deployable electronic LRUs are housed in a lightweight but extremely strong carbon fibre enclosure as shown in figure 2.


SPECIAL REPORT: NEXT GENERATION AIRCRAFT DATA LINKS AND SYSTEM INTEGRATION SOLUTIONS

Conclusions

Figure 2: Ultra Carbon Fibre light weight deployable system box that houses advanced data link products.

Ultra’s approach is to provide tailored deployable secure communication and EW systems across land, sea and air platforms and infrastructure. These solutions are all supported by Ultra’s leading programmable Type 1 High Grade encryption engine providing both NATO interoperable and national security encryption to the tactical datalink systems implemented. Ultra’s TDL solutions have been successfully integrated in both single and multi link configurations around the world from programs including the latest Canadian Maritime Helicopters (L-11(22)) and UK Merlin Helicopters (L-11), through Danish Flexible Support Ships (L-11/16) and Polish Missile System Infrastructure (L-11) and Australian Ground based Tactical Information Exchange Networks (L-11). More widely direct procurement from key agencies including SPAWAR and NATO have provided Ultra TDL solutions across both NATO network systems and have provided vital interoperability of individual Nations’ platforms and infrastructure today. These proven and flexible multi link solutions have been tailored to meet the unique challenges that can be encountered, and this flexible approach has resulted in Ultra having in excess of 750 tactical datalink products and systems in the field today, configured from high grade link encryption to full multilink solutions.

Tactical Datalinks (TDL) remain a vital capability in providing secure network data communications between national and allied forces for the purpose of sharing real time situational awareness, in internationally recognised and standardised data formats. This drive for both national secure capabilities alongside international interoperability is driving many emerging Military End Users towards considering development of both an independent national tactical datalink network to operate alongside the internationally recognised tactical datalink networks needed for allied operations. Reducing defence budgets and the requirement for increased platform flexibility is driving the need to consider Roll on Roll off (Ro-Ro) tactical datalink solutions that can be used between operational platforms, as well as providing integrated multi-link solutions on board a particular platform within a common hardware platform. Ultra Electronics Multi Link Processor (MLP) provides a proven in-service and versatile solution to single or multiple tactical data link operations supporting Link 11, Link 16, Link 22, and VMF, as well as non NATO national tactical datalink software configurations. Deployable systems can be extended beyond tactical datalinks to provide complimentary secure video dissemination, platform command and control, surveillance and electronic warfare (EW) solutions within a single deployable system configuration, to provide greater operational flexibility to the Platform and User as well as giving older platforms a new lease of life. Cost effective flexibility of future Tactical Datalink Systems is vital to maintain the situational awareness across platforms and forces in a time of reducing budgets and greater operational challenges in light of rapidly developing threats around the world.

Contacts Ultra Electronics Limited Communication & Integrated Systems Bridport Road, Greenford, Middlesex UB6 8UA www.ultra-cis.com Karen.parnell@ultra-cis.com

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SPECIAL REPORT: NEXT GENERATION AIRCRAFT DATA LINKS AND SYSTEM INTEGRATION SOLUTIONS

Trends in Tactical Data Links in 21st Century Warfare Mary Dub, Editor

“We must … be constantly vigilant and prepared to react nearly instantaneously if we are to effectively limit the damage that the most sophisticated types of attacks can inflict. In this environment, the need to develop strategies, policies, authorities, and capabilities for DoD (United States Department of Defense) to manage and defend its information networks is manifest.” United States Quadrennial Defense Review (2010)

Like a beam of light, Tactical Data Links between platforms, commanders and allies on land, sea and air deliver encrypted real-time situational awareness and information on intentions and uncertainties in the field of battle.

T

actical Data Links such as Link 16 and its variants are the 21st century’s answer to the 17th century problem that Clausewitz calls “the fog of war”. Like a beam of light, Tactical Data Links between platforms, commanders and allies on land, sea and air deliver encrypted real-time situational awareness and information on intentions and uncertainties in the field of battle. Network Centric Warfare (NCW) or the British Network Enabled Capability (NEC) place communication between actors in the battle space, and the speed of information dominance, at the centre of war fighting doctrine. And it is the speed and security of this communication that today’s Tactical Data Links deliver. But these important communications are under threat. In the United States the 2010 Quadrennial Defence Review places the protection of these networks high on its list of priorities.

United States and British Intelligence Assessments Agree on the Current High Level of Risk of Cyber Attack The commander of U.S. Cyber Command, Gen. Alexander, said his biggest concern is the threat of destructive attacks yet to be seen. A destructive attack “is coming, in my opinion,” Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander told a military conference on “Maneuvering in Cyberspace”… “We were the country that developed the Internet, the iPhone, the iPad [and] some of these other great technologies. We ought to be the first to secure it.”2 On the other side of the Atlantic, the British government and MI5 agree. Jonathan Evans3, Head of Britain’s MI5, in his first speech for two years, said that the intelligence services were battling ‘astonishing levels’ of cyber attacks on networked facilities that were a ‘threat to the integrity of

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information’. And in the post 2012 Olympics environment the threat had changed: “We appear to be moving from a period of a deep and focused threat to one where the threat is less monolithic but wider,” he said. “Today, parts of the Arab world have once more become a permissive environment for al-Qaeda.”

The History of Today’s Modern Tactical Data Links The idiosyncrasies in today’s tactical data networks are best explained by revisiting the way they developed. Some see the system as a relic of the Cold War4. The half-century history of the system is explained in a Rand Corporation monograph (2010). Link 16 data communications standards and technology were developed in the U.S. (Joint Tactical Information Distribution System) JTIDS program, which began in 1975. The first JTIDS terminals were large and were installed only on AWACS and at U.S., U.K., and NATO ground-control facilities. Smaller JTIDS terminals were also developed. However, because of their high cost, large size, and reliability issues, only a limited number of such terminals was procured to equip U.S. fighters, specifically – U.S. Navy F-14Ds and a single squadron of U.S. Air Force F-15Cs.5

LINK 16’s Capabilities The Rand Monograph (2010) provides a scientific assessment of the systems capabilities. “Link 16 can provide a range of combat information in


SPECIAL REPORT: NEXT GENERATION AIRCRAFT DATA LINKS AND SYSTEM INTEGRATION SOLUTIONS

Communications

near-real time to U.S. and NATO allies’ combat aircraft and C2 centers. The displayed information includes an integrated air picture with both friendly and hostile aircraft locations, general situational awareness data, and amplifying data on air and ground targets, including air defense threats. This will contribute to the integrated control of fighters by either groundbased or airborne controllers and will greatly increase the fighters’ situational awareness and ability either to engage targets designated by controllers or to avoid threats, thereby increasing mission effectiveness and reducing fratricide and attrition.”

TADIL (Tactical Digital

How is a LINK 16 Tactical Data Link Achieved?

near-term solution for

Communications systems that include TADIL (Tactical Digital Information Link) capabilities offer a near-term solution for exchanging digital data over a common network that is continuously and automatically updated. Precise quantitative information (data) can be sent faster and more reliably via direct digital communications. In addition, text messages need only a small fraction of the communications resources that interactive voice messages require and can also be delivered much more reliably than voice in high-stress combat conditions. Moreover, digital modulation6 offers many advantages over analogue modulation. Four of these are particularly important: the ability to send data; the ability to encrypt voice or data7; the use of error detection and correction coding, which increases the reliability and quality of transmissions over channels affected by noise, interference, or fading; and, depending on the digital modulation scheme used, a means to distribute energy in ways that can hide the signal to provide for low probability of detection or resistance to jamming.8

systems that include

Information Link) capabilities offer a

exchanging digital data over a common network that is continuously and automatically updated.

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SPECIAL REPORT: NEXT GENERATION AIRCRAFT DATA LINKS AND SYSTEM INTEGRATION SOLUTIONS

Delivering Interoperability as Data Links Modernise Don McBarnet, Staff Writer

The value of good tactical data links is that they deliver systems that prevent friendly fire, obviate duplicate assignments and avoid missed targets.

t

here is an inherent tension within any system designed to improve links between different platforms of different countries in changing coalitions of sovereign nations in war. First, there is the confusion about the nature of interoperability. When interoperability first became an issue, the United States saw much of the problem as inter and intra-service communications. That is, the US Air Forces, found difficulties communicating with the US Navy, or the US Army or the US Marines. Things got worse – American forces had to fight alongside other nations many of whom did not speak English, like many NATO countries. The Americans were not alone in this. Inter-service rivalry is endemic in many other NATO and non-NATO countries as well. The challenge of interoperability for Tactical Data Links is to get the data flow delivering the information across the national and service barriers.

The Hurdle of Encryption Another layer of complexity is added when each sovereign nation wishes to guard its national interest by encrypting data for its own use. Data has to be both encoded and decoded before release to allies, and also hopefully kept secure against an enemy’s attempts to degrade or undermine it. The Field Manual to instruct soldiers, sailors and airmen on how the system of tactical data links works summarises the manner in which this is achieved through the MIDS (Multifunctional Information Distribution System). These high-capacity, ultra high frequency (UHF), line of sight (LOS), frequency hopping data

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communications terminals provide secure, jam-resistant voice and digital data exchange. JTIDS/MIDS terminals operate on the principal of time division multiple access (TDMA), wherein time slots are allocated among all TADIL J network participants for the transmission and reception of data. TDMA eliminates the requirement for a net control station (NCS) by providing a nodeless communications network architecture.’9

How MIDS Achieves Interoperability Interoperability across allies is now built into the software of many of the terminals. Rockwell Collins, the contractor for some of the terminals tells the tale. “The MIDS program was inaugurated via a Memorandum of Understanding amongst the founding MIDS nations (Germany, Italy, Spain, France, and the United States). It is managed by the U.S. Navy MIDS International Program Office in San Diego, CA, whose responsibilities include management of several versions of MIDS terminals for the US Navy, Air Force, Army and international militaries.”10 By international agreement, the deputy program manager of MIDS is a French military officer.11

The Benefits of the MIDS System: Fratricide Prevention In the confusion of the battlefield, the accurate identification of allies and enemies is of very high importance. The value of good tactical data links is that they deliver systems that prevent friendly fire, obviate duplicate assignments and avoid missed targets. The constant and frequent identification of allied platforms and units is a key feature. Each JU (JTIDS user) periodically transmits a PPLI (Precise Participant Location and Identification) report, which provides crypto-secure location and identification for the platform. In addition to position and positive identification, each platform may provide status information such as fuel, weapons inventory,


SPECIAL REPORT: NEXT GENERATION AIRCRAFT DATA LINKS AND SYSTEM INTEGRATION SOLUTIONS

According to RAND, one of the key operating issues is the lack of standardisation of the terminology of the different countries and international institutions. and mission assignment tasking. This capability is one of the most important benefits of TADIL J. The capability of all link participants to frequently provide comprehensive position, identification and status information is a considerable improvement over other links and has significant capability to reduce or prevent fratricide.

Interoperability Issues Between NATO and the United States According to RAND, one of the key operating issues is the lack of standardisation of the terminology of the different countries and international institutions. It gives the discrepancies between the United States and NATO as an example. Within the United States, confusion arises when JTIDS and Link 16 are used interchangeably for the data link. JTIDS and JTIDS-compliant radio equipment (such as MIDS) are just the communications element. There is also confusion surrounding the use of TADIL J. Some want the term to apply to the link, and others want the term to apply

only to the message formats and protocols (as defined by MIL-STD-6016). NATO sees the problem differently: The TADIL J messages and protocols become “Link 16” (STANAG 5516), while the JTIDS communication element becomes “MIDS” (STANAG 4175). Thus, NATO uses Link 16 in a narrower sense than that used in the United States.12

The United Kingdom Joins the MIDS System Despite issues of terminology and definition, other nations, like Britain are joining the MIDS system. The international participating nations see it as a successful cooperative program that will provide a near-term solution to a long-standing need for interoperable data communications for fighters. Although the United Kingdom is not part of the MIDS program, it is acquiring another Link 16 terminal known as SHAR (for Sea Harrier) to install on some of its fighters. Thus, six major NATO nations will soon have interoperable, encrypted, jam-resistant communications on their newest fighters.

COTS and Costs and Delay Like every acquisition program in the defense area, there are pressures to reduce costs by buying off-the-shelf systems, which may meet an immediate need and obviate delay. However, delays in installation and compatibility with other systems are an enduring problem. Importantly, for the US Air Force there has been the delay in acquiring a Link 16 capability for the F-15. This delay is estimated to be a minimum of two years. This includes not only the delays associated with delivery of the terminals, but also delays caused by difficulties in coordinating FDL (Fighter Data Link) integration with other avionics upgrades and depot-level maintenance for the F-15 fleet.

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SPECIAL REPORT: NEXT GENERATION AIRCRAFT DATA LINKS AND SYSTEM INTEGRATION SOLUTIONS

Procurement and Tactical Data Link Systems Mary Dub, Editor

Even in a market place where key international contractors are clear market leaders, nation states will tend to favour their own industry products or choose to develop national variants to their own specifications.

T

he tactical data links market place is noted for its vigour and technological innovation. Countries like the United States which, despite budget concerns, can afford to remain at the forefront of technological innovation as part of their national war fighting philosophy, lead other nations to be aware of the ageing of their systems and the active effect of Moore’s law. Meanwhile, some if not all, European NATO countries have budget limitations. So Defence Departments need to keep their systems both compatible with the United States and affordable. The MIDS (Multifunctional Information Distribution System) system is a case in point: “One of the drawbacks of MIDS, which is shared by other Link 16 terminals, is it is an ageing system design that takes limited advantage of recent technology developments…More capable and more technologically advanced data link systems such at the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) are under development by the DoD (United States Department of Defense) and may meet the more stressing far-term needs of the services. However, JTRS will not be available in the near term. On the other hand, if the MIDS program can be transitioned into the production phase without major delays, the urgent data link requirements of the MIDS program member nations can be satisfied in the near term.”13

Suggested Weakness of Link 16 While the many advantages of Link 16 are acknowledged, some users of the network are aware of its weaknesses. For example, the

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Rand monograph (2010) highlights various issues that have arisen. Link-16, the most widely used airborne tactical data link, provides C2, SA (Situation Awareness), weapons coordination, electronic warfare, and other capabilities, but does not meet emerging throughput, scalability, and latency requirements, especially in high electronic attack environments.14

Nation States Wish to Protect Their Own High Technology Defence Industries Even in a market place where key international contractors are clear market leaders, nation states will tend to favour their own industry products or choose to develop national variants to their own specifications. For example, earlier this year Britain’s Ministry of Defence signed a contract with Rockwell Collins and BAE Systems for Link 16 sustainment and engineering services to the Tactical Data Links Delivery Team. This is a $29 million, five-year, asset availability and post design services contract located at Waddington, Royal Air Force Base. However, while US/UK consortiums like Rockwell Collins and BAE Systems are winning contracts for U.S. Navy Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) for production of Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS) Low Volume Terminals (LVT) for U.S. and Coalition Forces, there are other countries bidding for similar systems. The Republic of Korea recently signed a contract for its fighter jets to have a Multifunctional Information Distribution System – Low Volume Terminals (MIDS-LVTs) for their Air Force. Deliveries began in late 2011 and will


SPECIAL REPORT: NEXT GENERATION AIRCRAFT DATA LINKS AND SYSTEM INTEGRATION SOLUTIONS

continue through 2014. The terminals will be installed on F-16 fighters.

Managing UAS Systems in a Tactical Data Linked Network UAS systems have now become a valued platform to deliver situational awareness in counter insurgency operations and other combat. UAS have many well known advantages, as Major Jaysen A. Yochim describes: They (UAS) can remain airborne for long durations, do not require life support systems, do not need to eat or sleep, and they will never say no to a mission. They may minimize friendly loss of life by conducting missions that have a minimal chance of survival.15 However, because of their dependence on an uplink for piloting from ground bases and a downlink to deliver their data, they have become much more vulnerable. “They are still prone to human error due to their being flown by ground-based operators. Their development and procurement cost has grown exponentially as capabilities increase. Current systems are not autonomous and their control is contingent on uninterrupted communications. Their dependence on a constant control signal has contributed to a UAS accident rate 100 times greater than manned aircraft.”

The Problem Lies in Communications Failure Communications failure accounts for 11% of all Theater, Tactical, and Man-Portable UAS accidents. Communications failure in Army systems accounts for 15% of all reportable accidents, but most incidents of communication failure for man-portable UAS go unreported. And the critical issue is this: once the communications link is lost the UAS leaves the operation. Disruption of UAS CDLs will cause a system to execute its lost link programming and force an aircraft to depart the mission area.16 This means the UAS ceases to deliver the information the mission requires at a cost to men on the ground. There is also the additional cost of loss of platform. Acknowledging this important risk for UAS systems, Ultra Electronics CIS has developed

the High Integrity Data Link (HIDL) for Mission Critical Secure Networks.17 As a leading data link technology, HIDL is now being considered as the basis for a new NATO UAV Command and Control standard STANAG 4660 to provide a command and control uplink and telemetry downlink for multiple UAVs. There is also a narrow band downlink for sensors such as electro optic or infrared cameras and a network- enabled capability to support communication with multiple nodes. Ultra also has an independent portfolio of UAS systems that can integrate many of the most well known programmes like UK Watchkeeper, US Predator, US Shadow, UK Fire Shadow, UK Mantis, Saab air vehicles and Condor HAV (Hybrid Air Vehicles)

Northrop Grumman’s CLIP system Many manufacturing consortiums present systems that feature critical enhancements to the Link 16 system. Northrop Grumman’s Common Link Integration Processing (CLIP) is a software solution that performs data transformation and processes protocols for dissimilar communications formats. It meets the requirements for common Tactical Data Link (TDL) software that integrates into multiple platforms. Northrop Grumman argues that it improves tactical communications, alleviates interoperability issues and lowers integration and life-cycle maintenance costs. CLIP uses a common, open architecture for processing data links such as Link 16, Link 22 and Variable Message Format (VMF). Future data links include Tactical Targeting Network Technology (TTNT) and Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) Wideband.

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SPECIAL REPORT: NEXT GENERATION AIRCRAFT DATA LINKS AND SYSTEM INTEGRATION SOLUTIONS

Links from the Past to the Future Meredith Llewellyn, Lead Contributor

DARPA’s mission is to define the new technology that is going to give the United States its critical edge in combat.

C

yber warfare and the protection of networked communication links is a budget priority in the United States and the United Kingdom defence area despite stringent budget cuts in many other areas. Companies working on tactical data links and system integration are well placed to pick up on this leading area of technological advance, though few, if any, will divulge the algorithms and protocols that make their systems strong against the latest systems of attack from electronic and other jamming measures. Ultra Electronics CIS recently won a contract to deliver the replacement for the British End Cryptographic Unit Replacement Programme (ECU RP), the first phase of the UK MOD’s cryptographic modernisation programme. The contract is said to be worth £76mn. Like all cryptographic systems, it is classified, ’secret’ reflecting the history of the name of the manufacturers of the system. Ultra was, historically the name for the highest British security clearance during World War 2: ‘Ultra secret’, one higher than ‘Most secret.’

The Future is FAST Predicting the future for any high technology system is always high risk. But there are reports that BAE has a program to enhance Link 16 connectivity. BAE Systems’ Flexible Access Secure Transfer (FAST) waveform is aimed at upgrading older aircraft using Link 16 terminals. FAST aggregates unused time slots within Link 16 to boost throughput from 256kbps up to 1Mbps.18 Another upgrade on the way is the forthcoming MIDS JTRS from ViaSat and Data Link Solutions, which will have a softwarecontrolled architecture. JTRS is expected to be the foundation of future US radio-based communications. Within the same volume as the MIDS-LVT, the software-defined MIDS JTRS will be able to handle Link 16 with NSA certified encryption, Link-16 Enhanced Throughput (ET) and Link-16 Frequency Remapping (FR). It will also have TACAN (a tactical air navigation aid) providing range and bearing from a beacon, UHF or VHF, and the Wideband

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Networking Waveform as communication options. Additional capabilities are implemented on 3 programmable channels from 2 MHz – 2 GHz. The US military wants to be able to upgrade MIDS-JTRS by simply removing an older MIDS LVT-1 module, and installing the new MIDS-JTRS module in the aircraft as a plug-and-play upgrade.19

DARPA at the Forefront of New Thinking on Communication DARPA can be relied upon to have many ongoing programs that challenge current thinking on systems that are already embedded. DARPA’s mission is to define the new technology that is going to give the United States its critical edge in combat. One program that it is looking at is Content-Based Mobile Edge Networking (CBMEN). Its scientific premise is to use the speed and effectiveness of civilian communication through mobile phones in the military sphere. They hope to build on the way that the use of civilian mobile phones delivers local knowledge in a real time framework. The program leader argues that Modern warfare is fought at the edge and that success or failure often hinges on up-to-date local knowledge.20 The program envisages building from content distribution for a small mobile ad hoc network to a second phase, which scales up to larger networks and increased dynamics.

Operation Unified Protector over Libya 2011: A Case Study in Link 16 Writing in the autumn of 2012, when the current level of political and military unrest has resulted in the death of the United States ambassador to Libya, it is useful to look back a year to Operation Unified Protector where an ad hoc coalition of countries led by Britain and France led an operation to help opposition forces on the ground in Libya. At that time, during the military operation, the French said that many of the tactical data links worked satisfactorily. Data from all onboard and off-board sensors were combined into a single tactical picture presented to the


SPECIAL REPORT: NEXT GENERATION AIRCRAFT DATA LINKS AND SYSTEM INTEGRATION SOLUTIONS

pilot on the cockpit’s central color display or, if desired, on one of the lateral displays. The pilot could select the data he wanted, combine it with other data, and pass it on to his wingman or to other allied aircraft, ships or ground troops through the Link 16, without speaking a single word on the radio and, if not using the radar, without any transmission whatsoever. Link 16 could also be used to de-conflict assignments with other aircraft without using radios.21 A French pilot described how well the system worked in allowing him to cooperate with other platforms over Libya. The French aircraft, the Rafale, can receive target coordinates from an AWACS or another aircraft via Link 16. To accept the assignment, the pilot pushes a button, and the [GPS] coordinates are automatically programmed into the AASM (Armement Air-Sol Modulaire) air to ground guided bombs, with no further action by the pilot who, once in range (up to 30 nautical miles), again pushes a single button to launch all three – or all six – AASMs to their individual targets.”

Civilian/Military Cooperation An increasingly important part of 21st century conflict is working within the framework of civilian/military cooperation. A military aircraft may have to operate in a contested area in the presence of civilian platforms with which it may be necessary to communicate. Airbus (part of the EADS group) is already working on this through FITS. FITS, is Airbus’s Fully Integrated Tactical System. The system collects, classifies and displays the various types of sensor-data gathered in different types of surveillance missions and provides it to the crew via a highly intuitive interface. The result is maximized operational effectiveness thanks to the enhanced level of information integration and reduced workload on-board the aircraft. FITS has been described as providing the software glue that binds the aircraft’s tactical systems together. From its modular design it can be fitted to military or civilian aircraft. Its modular nature means that it can be used in a wide range of missions from maritime patrol and ASW (Anti Submarine

An increasingly important part of 21st century conflict is working within the framework of civilian/ military cooperation. A military aircraft may have to operate in a contested area in the presence of civilian platforms with which it may be necessary to communicate.

Warfare) / ASuW (Anti Surface Warfare) to civic operations to the benefit of society such as SAR (Search and Rescue), illegal immigration and smuggling, environmental protection, and economic exclusion zone enforcement. Because of its flexibility, it is suitable for different platforms and is already in service on the Airbus Military C212, CN235 and C295 special mission range of aircraft, as well as being at the heart of the company’s comprehensive upgrade of the Lockheed P-3 Orion aircraft. It can also be introduced on other aircraft such as the civilian A320 family.22

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SPECIAL REPORT: NEXT GENERATION AIRCRAFT DATA LINKS AND SYSTEM INTEGRATION SOLUTIONS

References: 1

 Quadrennial Defense Review Report p.37 http://www.defense.gov/qdr/images/QDR_as_of_12Feb10_1000.pdf

Operate Effectively in Cyberspace

2

Alexander Cites Need for Greater Cyber Defenses By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service LINTHICUM, Md., Sept. 13, 2011

3

MI5 fighting ‘astonishing’ level of cyber-attacks By Gordon Corera: Security correspondent, BBC News

4

Marty McDonough, Founder, President, and

5

Rand Monograph Tactical Data links: Chapter 9

http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1235/MR1235.chap9.pdf Digital modulation means that information (voice or data) is transmitted as a sequence of discrete symbols, each of which represents a small number of

6 

bits. Voice must be converted to a digital stream, a process that is performed by a vocoder. 7

Analog voice can be scrambled, but this is much less secure than encryption of digital voice and also tends to degrade intelligibility.

8

Rand Monograph Tactical Data links: Chapter 9 http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1235/MR1235.chap9.pdf

9

FM6-24-8 CH I DESCRIPTION AND OVERVIEW http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/army/fm/6-24-8/tadilj.pdf

10

The MIDS-LVT Program The Wonders of Link 16 For Less: MIDS-LVTs Aug 09, 2012 15:33 EDT Rockwell Collins website

11

Rand Monograph Tactical Data links: Chapter 9 http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1235/MR1235.chap9.pdf

12

Rand Monograph Tactical Data links: Chapter 9 http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1235/MR1235.chap9.pdf

13

Rand Monograph Tactical Data links: Chapter 9 http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1235/MR1235.chap9.pdf

14

Defeating enemy Electronic Warfare through Tactical Data Links and Network Integration

http://artimitatesknife.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/defeating-enemy-electronic-warfare.html 15

‘Attacking the Link’: AUG 2009 – JUN 2010 The Vulnerabilities of Unmanned Aircraft System Common Data Links to Electronic Attack MAJ Jaysen A. Yochim http://www.fas.org/irp/program/collect/uas-vuln.pdf

16

‘Attacking the Link’: AUG 2009 – JUN 2010 The Vulnerabilities of Unmanned Aircraft System Common Data Links to Electronic Attack MAJ Jaysen A. Yochim http://www.fas.org/irp/program/collect/uas-vuln.pdf

17

Ultra Electronics pdf

18

Defense Industry Daily Into the Future: FAST and MIDS JTRS Aug 09, 2012 15:33 EDT

http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/the-wonders-of-link-16-for-less-midslvts-updated-02471/ 19

Defense Industry Daily Into the Future: FAST and MIDS JTRS Aug 09, 2012 15:33 EDT

http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/the-wonders-of-link-16-for-less-midslvts-updated-02471/ 20

Future Content-Based Mobile Edge Networking (CBMEN) DARPA-BAA 11-51 Dr. Keith Gremban Program Manager Strategic Technology Office Proposers’ Day Presentation 13 May, 2011

21

http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/Frances-AASM-Precision-Guided-Bombs-06200/

22

http://www.airbusmilitary.com/InnovationAndTechnology/FITS.aspx

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Special Report – Next Generation Aircraft Data Links and System Integration Solutions  

Defence Industry – Special Report on Next Generation Aircraft Data Links and System Integration Solutions

Special Report – Next Generation Aircraft Data Links and System Integration Solutions  

Defence Industry – Special Report on Next Generation Aircraft Data Links and System Integration Solutions