Magazine article National Defense

Army Unveils New Plan to Build Ground Vehicle Network

Magazine article National Defense

Army Unveils New Plan to Build Ground Vehicle Network

Article excerpt

During dernonstrations next spring at the Army's network integration evaluations, soldiers will roll out in mine-resistant vehicles equipped with a new network architecture that will allow platforms to more easily share information, reduce weight and save power.

The demonstrations will be the first big test of the Vehicular Integration for C4ISR/EW Interoperability initiative. More commonly known as VICTORY, the effort comprises a new network architecture and specifications aimed at facilitating better interoperability between ground vehicles and their communications, command-and-control, computing and surveillance (C4ISR) equipment.

"We feel that if we get it in front of some soldiers and let them ride around [in] the vehicle ... and demonstrate some operational vignettes, then by doing so we will have demonstrated to Army leadership the utility of VICTORY," said Lt. Col. Brian E. Watson, chief of platform integration for program executive office combat support and combat service support. Watson is leading the Army's efforts to integrate the new architecture on tactical vehicles for upcoming demonstrations.

Over the past decade of war, the Army has sometimes struggled to define its desired network capabilities, said Mark Signorelli, BAE Systems' vice president and general manager of combat vehicles. "Historically, you have a unique configuration of a network for a Bradley, for an M113, for an M1 [Abrams tank]," he said. "None of those internal platform capabilities were--I wouldn't say they weren't compatible, because you could talk across them--but the components were very different and in some cases very unique and proprietary because they were developed in a stove-pipe."

This has improved in recent years as the service moves toward a more cohesive C4ISR approach, Signorelli said. As commonality increases, it will be easier to integrate and subsequently upgrade subsystems in a vehicle, which will in turn reap cost savings.

The Oshkosh-built MAT-V is slated to he the first tactical wheeled vehicle to integrate a VICTORY-compliant backbone. If all goes well at the NIE, the fleet will begin transitioning to this configuration in fiscal year 2017, Watson said. The Army fleet of Humvees and family of medium tactical vehicles will follow, with demonstrations slated for 2016 and integration beginning in 2018.

Bradley, Abrams and Stryker will also incorporate "selected VICTORY requirements" as part of planned upgrades, Ashley Givens, spokeswoman for PEO ground combat systems, said in an mailed statement. "Once approved, additional requirements will be implemented as part of future efforts."

New vehicles coming online in the next few years will also leverage the architecture. The Army and Marine Corps' joint light tactical vehicle will roll off the assembly line with a minimum set of VICTORY components, Watson said.

The armored multi-purpose vehicle also contains some VICTORY requirements, Signorelli said. RAE is competing for the AMPV contract.

VICTORY uses a data bus-centric design. "That's a fancy way of saying everyone is on one network together, and that network is ethernet," said David Jedynak, chief technology officer at Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based electronics manufacturer. The design permits the information from each piece of hardware plugged into the data bus to be shared across the network. It also consolidates the number of interfaces, allowing users to do more without having to move to a different device.

Among the systems that will be connected to the VICTORY data bus for the NIE demonstrations are: the common remotely operated weapons system, mounted family of computing systems, warfighter information network-tactical, VIK-5 enhanced vehicular intercom system, precision timing and navigation devices and the current collection of Army radios. All will be off-the-shelf and furnished by the government, Watson said. …

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