AUSA 2021: US military’s networking capability deploys

The Tactical Network Project Manager completed the training and commissioning of the 67th ESB’s new equipment for the TriLOS radio. (Photo: US Army)

Expeditionary Signal Battalions are undergoing a modernization process to better provide networking and mission command support to deployed forces.

The U.S. Army’s Enhanced Expeditionary Signal Battalions (ESB-E) are commissioning new COTS equipment that will allow for faster deployment.

ESB-E are higher performance versions of existing ESBs that deploy to support rapid reaction forces and provide signal support with alternate tactical network equipment.

The 50th ESB-E (Fort Bragg, NC), the 57th ESB-E (Fort Hood, TX) and the 304th ESB-E (US Forces Korea) tested COTS equipment that reduced SWaP but provided communications faster with higher throughput. The service is currently setting up the 44th ESB-E stationed in Germany.

An SNN (Scalable Network Node) medium ground satellite terminal and baseband kit were first put into service at 50e ESB-E in January. Its deployment will continue at a rate of three units per year until fiscal year 2028. The US military has a total of 24 ESBs.

SNN replaces At-the-Halt tactical network transport equipment. A spokesperson for PEO C3T, which manages the project, said shepherd that with SNN, an ESB-E can “dramatically increase the support of its network by other units with more nodes and less manpower while reducing transport needs by more than 60%” .

A new high-speed dual-channel land line-of-sight radio (TriLOS) is also being delivered to provide an alternative signal path for SATCOM in a contested environment. This is transportable in cases and with reduced SWaP it is faster to install, use and maintain than the High Capacity Line of Sight (HCLOS) radio it replaces. It is part of the larger deployment of the Capability Set 21 equipment.

TriLOS offers “a significant increase in bandwidth and range, with lower latency than satellite communications,” the spokesperson said, adding that in addition to performing point-to-point communications, it will provide also (unlike HCLOS) a point-to-multipoint, “allowing soldiers to shoot multiple shots with a single antenna mast, instead of needing additional antennas to shoot at multiple terminals. ‘

During SNN satellite operator training, Soldiers from Alpha Company, 50th ESB-E, troubleshoot instructor-installed faults on the Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT). (Photo: US Army)

Meanwhile, Commercial Coalition Equipment (CCE) was dispatched to 50e ESB-E in June and is supplied to other units. It provides mission command connectivity with voice, video and data between armed, joint and coalition forces. The US military uses it to connect to coalition networks through its tactical network.

Going forward, the military plans to deploy an enhanced Phoenix-E ground satellite terminal that will be the primary SATCOM capability for ESB-E. These terminals are transportable by soldiers for use in division and corps headquarters to provide X / Ka and C / Ku broadband SATCOMs for C2, logistics, operational intelligence and administrative data.

“Its dual-head capability allows the simultaneous use of two antennas on two different frequency bands or two different satellites. This reduces staffing requirements, doubles the bandwidth throughput and improves the diversity and multipath resiliency within the tactical network, ”said the spokesperson.

The military will also implement a Tropospheric Scattering Transmission System (Tropo) from FY2023 that will provide a next-generation COTS network beyond line of sight with increased throughput. Like TriLOS, it will be an alternative route to SATCOM.

“On the current plan, PM Tactical Network will deploy multiple ESB-E’s per exercise until all 23 Army ESBs have been upgraded to the new base capability by 2028,” said the spokesperson.

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About Joaquin Robertson

Joaquin Robertson

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