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21 Sep 04. ITT Industries has conducted the first airborne test of an embedded network communications system to meet the demands of future soldier communications. The prototype radios were using Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) compliant technology that creates a unique “information bubble” to connect land and airborne platforms over extended distances.

Using prototype radios developed as part of the Army’s Soldier Level Communications Environment (SLICE) project, the test used advanced networking software to maintain a cohesive information network surrounding moving platforms over 50 miles in densely wooded terrain. This distance would support a variety of military applications including Loitering and Precision Attack missiles that are part of the Army’s emerging FCS complementary Non-Line-of-Sight Launch System (NLOS-LS).

The goal of the SLICE Project is to bring individual soldiers and their weapons into the DoD Global Information Grid using small, low power, energy efficient Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW) technology. The SRW can automatically adjust to environments like dense foliage and urban settings where traditional solutions could fail.

SLICE SRW is a key enabling technology for several emerging communications requirements for the Warfighter Systems to include the mounted and dismounted warfighter, Unattended Ground Sensors (UGS), Unattended Munitions such as the NLOS-LS and Intelligent Munitions Systems (IMS). In yet another demonstration of SLICE technology, Carnegie Mellon University scientists used SLICE “pods” to successfully navigate a robotic assault vehicle through a range at the U.S. Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia. Navigating a robot through hostile fire areas is a way to save lives.

The SLICE program continues ITT’s legacy of excellence in network communications technology. This legacy includes the Small Unit Operation Situational Awareness System (SUO-SAS) began under DARPA leadership in 1998. SUO technology was transitioned to the Army’s Communications Electronics Research, Development, and Engineering Center (CERDEC) in 2002.

As a result of the successful development of SLICE SRW, the Army has awarded ITT’s Aerospace/Communications Division additional funding to continue maturing the system. The waveform will be enhanced to accommodate increased voice capability and extended to include applications for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGV). The next major test of SLICE will occur in mid-2005 with an integrated demonstration of the dismounted soldier UGS, IMS and NLOS-LS domains at the US Army C4ISR On the Move Testbed at Ft. Dix, NJ.

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