The General Dynamics (GD)-built warfighter information network-tactical (WIN-T) increment 2 soldier network extension (SNE) platform has significantly increased the US Army's communications potential and call-for-fire response time during tests.
During the second development test and network integration evaluation 15.1 exercises at Fort Bliss, Texas, and White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, US, the SNE successfully supported the 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment (4 / 27), 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division's call-for-fire mission threads
Prior to the SNE, legacy line-of-site radios were used by the forward observers and fire support officers to transmit calls for fire and counter fire at the far-edges of a mission area.
4 / 27 battery commander captain Sean Williams said: "Before, we were constrained by terrestrial location systems [but] since this is a satellite-based system, there is much greater range to digitally call for fire and process fire missions on the battlefield.
"Line-of-sight radios only work when one radio can locate another radio using line-of-sight, which makes communications very difficult when soldiers work in mountainous or remote locations.
"With the SNE, artillery soldiers use satellite communications to exchange information from any location within the brigade's mission area."
General Dynamics Mission Systems president Chris Marzilli said: "With recent improvements that make the SNE easier to learn and use, soldiers find creative ways to increase their mission effectiveness while improving their safety."
Enhancements to the SNE include reducing the steps and the time required to power-up and power-down the system by half, making trouble-shooting tools more intuitive and streamlining the graphical interface to look more like the electronic devices soldiers use at home.
The system also extends the reach of the WIN-T secure communications backbone network to the company level, enabling dismounted soldiers equipped with the AN / PRC-154A Rifleman radios to reach the WIN-T increment 2 network through the AN / PRC-155 two-channel manpack for the first time.
During the recent elections in Afghanistan, US soldiers used SNE as a network hotspot to securely connect their laptop computers, radios and other equipment to WIN-T for voice, chat and email communications.
A cornerstone communications capability for the army's vision of Force 2025, WIN-T uses satellite communications to connect soldiers and mission commanders during a mission, and simultaneously enables communication with officers in the command post and up to regional headquarters.
Image: A WIN-T Inc SNE vehicle during the network integration evaluation 14.2 in the US. Photo: courtesy of Nancy JonesBonbrest, PEO C3T.