BOEING LEVERAGES Connexion TECHNOLOGY ONTO THE BATTLEFIELD
By Julian Nettlefold
BATTLESPACE Editor Julian Nettlefold was briefed by Waldo Carmona, Director of Advanced Networks & Net-Centric Systems, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems at AUSA about Boeing’s use of its civil airline Connexion by Boeing (CBB) technology being leveraged onto the battlefield in Iraq.
Connexion by Boeing (CBB) was an in-flight online connectivity service from Boeing. This service allowed travelers to access a high-speed internet connection while on board a plane in flight through a wired Ethernet or a wireless 802.11 Wi-Fi connection. The infrastructure used a phased array Ku-band antenna on the aircraft, leased satellite transponders, and ground stations. The service coverage included North America, North Atlantic, Europe, the Middle East, Northern Pacific, Australia, and Asia. While other providers have worked with in-flight internet, only Connexion by Boeing accomplished it for flights over water. Ground stations were located in Canada, Japan, U.S. and Switzerland.
“Our challenge at Boeing was to provide C4I to the disadvantaged user on the battlefield in real-time and seamlessly,” Carmona told BATTLESPACE, “In addition we had to be able to provide enough bandwidth for enabling full motion video, chat, collaboration, and VoIP to the front line commanders and troops in near real time. Another goal was to provide a system allowing connectivity from the TOC to the front line troops providing things such as target folders, updated plans, and actionable intelligence. To achieve this we initiated a three year internally funded Program within Boeing using existing FCS spin-out technologies and civil technologies such as the CBB system. The goal for Boeing is to enable on the move connections across the Current Force Brigade Combat Teams, which account for approximately 2/3 of the Army.”
“How have you achieved this?” the Editor asked
“The goal was to provide directed line-of-sight (LOS) and beyond -line-of–sight (BLOS) systems using a mix of Ku, X and L-Band satcom systems focusing on providing Edge users previously unequalled connectivity and situational awareness. We leveraged the Netops capability previously developed for CBB and identified a number of commercial KU Band suppliers; in the end we developed an on the move wideband communications system for a complete Stryker Brigade, integrating antennas and required equipment on a Stryker C2 vehicle and TOC’s. We have developed a flexible system which enables us to buy air time from different SATCOM suppliers for different Areas of Operation (AO’s). The secret is dynamic bandwidth allocation, which allows us to monitor and change the pipe sizes based on user needs, eliminating “set sizes” that waste valuable time and money. When a User is not using the system, we can give time and bandwidth to another user. Having demonstrated this to the Army at Fort Lewis, Washington, we were asked to extend the system across Iraq. We used commercial hardware, Ku terminals and an L3 Daetron antenna system and our own interfaces and proven Netops capability developed for CBB and installed, certified and made operational the wideband Ku systems on the Stryker vehicles in the green Zone in Baghdad in thirty days. We have been in country since January 2007 at 98 % Operational Readiness. Jordan Fitxpatrick, Boeing program manager for the deployment of Ku wideband on the Strykers, has fielded 11 OTM systems, has 4 ready for delivery, and 15 Ground terminals in theatre, and aims to have a total of 40 systems operational in theatre by the end of 2008. Additionally, this same team developed and demonstrated in less than 4 months something that no one had ever successfully demonstrated, wideband Ku connectivity, thru the rotors, on a manoeuvring UH-60 C2 aircraft proving that a common wideband network for air and ground forces while on the move was possible.”
“How did you achieve connectivity to the infan