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Colonel discusses vision of joint aerial layer network
BEDFORD, Mass. - Col. Anthony Genatempo, Space, Aerial and Nuclear Networks Division senior materiel leader, speaks to attendees at the North Suburban Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Council breakfast meeting Jan. 31 at the Doubletree Hotel. Genatempo presented a briefing on the joint aerial layer network, highlighting the need for connectivity among disparate systems. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mark Wyatt)
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Colonel discusses vision of joint aerial layer network

Posted 2/8/2013   Updated 2/8/2013 Email story   Print story

    


by Patty Welsh
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs


2/8/2013 - BEDFORD, Mass. -- The vision of a joint aerial layer network to tie together assets on the ground, in the air and in space was the topic of presentations during the Military Affairs Council meeting at the Doubletree Hotel Jan. 31.

The government and industry presenters both talked about a multi-tiered JALN to increase communications access at all levels and to enable over-the-horizon and beyond-line-of-sight communications and data transfer.

"We need to provide a long-haul capability, across this very expansive environment, that can handle the types of data and communications that need to get to various user points," said Col. Anthony Genatempo, Space, Aerial and Nuclear Networks Division senior materiel leader.

Genatempo focused on the high capacity backbone, and the idea of using a bandwidth-efficient common data link on the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node, or BACN, platform as a high altitude gateway to provide connectivity between disparate assets.

"This is a key building block to the joint vision," he said.

He provided a short history of the BACN program, saying it "is truly a victim of its own success," and an example of the "flexibility of need." BACN provides interoperability across voice and data link networks. The program started out with one leased aircraft. Today, there are six aircraft that are mission capable, three Global Hawks and three E-11 bombardier business jets, carrying the BACN payload for current operations.

In addition to looking to add the high capacity network capability, program managers are also working on other improvements for BACN. The ability to tie in additional users with radio communications is being looked at and antennas are being upgraded to extend and improve frequency range.

In conjunction with the Global Hawk program office, the BACN team at Hanscom is also trying to upgrade the landing remote element to be able to control more than one Global Hawk at a time.

"This will provide more scheduling opportunities for the CAOC [Combined Air and Space Operations Center] mission planners," said Genatempo.

The industry presenter, Bruce Carmichael, vice president for Air Force programs at L-3 Communications Communication Systems-West, spoke about the ability of fifth generation aircraft using their apertures to transmit and receive information.

"We want the JALN to be able to communicate up, down and across," he said, referencing the various tiers.

He also mentioned the use of optical or laser communications to increase the speed of transmission.

Another idea Carmichael spoke about was using a Remotely Operated Video Enhanced Receiver, or ROVER, such as a Tactical Air Control Party may have with them, as a receiver and transmitter. He said it would be like a terminal that could connect them to the entire network.

Genatempo emphasized a similar point, talking about a communications control interface that could reach out from a single asset to many others.

"For payloads, we might have an Army UAV, a Predator, a Global Hawk and a U-2, all with a ground point controlling each," he said. "We want to be able to have a common interface to be able to adjust the setting of the payload on the fly and over the air."

Both presenters talked about Beyond Line of Sight Command and Control as a way to tie existing pieces together as a JALN, but Genatempo said they found some of the technology was not where it needed to be and key assets were already tasked. Therefore, they've laid out a road map for where the project needs to go and what incremental capabilities can be achieved, but it will be dependent on the users deciding what their operational needs are.

The colonel also highlighted some acquisition best practices and changes within his division, most notably the inclusion of satellite communications and how he thinks that it is a good match.

"The government infrastructure - funding, budget, approvals - is set up for weapons systems," he said. We don't think of comm, data flow or high capacity pipelines that way. We are looking to revolutionize the management of JALN so it's considered a weapon system."



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