WIN-T UNDERGOES TRANSFORMATION
By Adam Baddeley, Deputy Editor BATTLESPACE
The Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T), the Army future communications network and tactical arm of the Global Information Grid (GIG), has recently undergone its own transformation, with the combination of the two competing teams into a single super-team comprising General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin. The changes will allow a single baseline for WIN-T to be established early, enabling the Army to more easily field proto-WIN-T elements. These will remain WIN-T compliant when the $7 billion programme begins fielding in 2008.
Colonel Angel Colon, Project Manager WIN-T, put the system into its proper context, “Joint Tactical Radio System Clusters 1 and 5 provide the connectivity within the Future Combat Systems (FCS) Unit of Action (UA). WIN-T will provide the tactical extension of those elements from forward [deployment] all the way back into the Continental United States. [They] provide reach between the UAs and reachback from the manoeuvre units all the way back to strategic location assets. [WIN-T] provides the critical technologies that allows the UEx (Unit of Employment (division)) and UEy (UE Corps) to provide and enable communications, not only at the extended halt but at the quick halt too – 15mintues from stopping at a location – as well as providing connectivity while on the move.” He used the analogy of domestic Internet access to demonstrate the step change in throughput that will be delivered by WIN-T. “Today you have cable connectivity for digital links at home. We are trying to provide that bandwidth not only when the units are static but also while they are on the move and at quick halt. That is what WIN-T is all about, providing that sort of throughput while on the move.”
“We initially embarked on a competitive process. The winners of the original competition were Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics C4 Systems. At that stage we were continuing on parallel paths, with each providing what they thought was the best solution for the Army. That strategy was laid out, based on the need to provide a WIN-T capability primarily to coincide with when the first FCS units arrived – in the 2008-09 timeframe.” Subsequent events, Colonel Colon explained, showed that this capability or component solutions were needed sooner rather than later. “The Global War on Terror situation changed that for us. It made us realise that the equipment we currently have out in the field – the legacy Mobile Subscriber Equipment (MSE) – was not capable of spanning the distances required for Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) in the static mode. Initial capability was provided to the force through other programmes. Our intent is to influence those acitivites by identifying the WIN-T technologies we can provide in the near future to continue to expand that capability. In the past we were primarily focussed on providing capability for FCS, now we are focussing not only on FCS when it becomes available to the warfighter, but also on trying to identify technologies that can be accelerated for the Current Force.”
Colonel Colon outlined that the Mobile Subscriber Equipment (MSE) was built for a different time and a different approach to Warfighting. “The non-modernised units today are working on a system that was based on linear war fighting where we controlled the ground Battlespace up to the forward lines of troops. In the old days you not only controlled but also dominated the Battlespace, the distances were less, and there were more troops on the ground, you could therefore afford to have ground relays. Today because of the distances that need to be covered, in Iraq for example, and the fewer troops on the ground, we are relying on satellite connectivity and to a great extent have removed the ground relays. That is the first major change.” He added that new technology that either comes out of WIN-T or is built with i