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US Army begins network integration exercise

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TEXAS (BNS): The US Army has started a brigade combat team integration exercise at White Sands Missile Range on Monday at New Mexico.

The exercise which started on July 12 will continue till July 16, 2010.

The integration exercise will connect soldiers, sensors, unmanned aerial vehicles, networked vehicles on-the-move, command posts and other nodes over long distances through satellite and software-programmable radio as part of an effort to evaluate the progress of its battlefield network.

"We are going to stress the network to see how far we can go to extend the network. It is not a test - but an integration exercise. We are going to see what this demonstration can do -- learn from it --- and then if necessary adjust our programmes," Lt. Gen. Bill Phillips, principal military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology said in a UA Army official news release.

Over 100 Soldiers and engineers are participating in the exercise. The idea is to connect network nodes to one another through one seamless battlefield network wherein soldiers, commanders and sensors can share voice, video, data and images across the force in real time.

Vehicles outfitted with Network Integration Kits (NIK) has an Integrated Computer System, JTRS Ground Mobile Radio and Blue Force Tracker display screen, through which they will serve as key network hubs connecting the terrestrial and satellite layers of the network to one another.

By connecting the echelons to one another, dismounted soldiers carrying a JTRS Rifleman Radio or JTRS Handheld Manpack Small radio will be able to instantly share information across the squad, platoon, company and battalion levels and, if needed, all the way up to commanders at higher headquarters or command posts.

During the exercise, the soldiers will send voice, video and images through Solder Radio Waveform (SRW), sensors such as the Unattended Ground Sensors, Small Unmanned Ground Robots and Class I UAS systems, which will instantaneously share information across the force. The NIKs will have the ability to view and share the sensor information in real time on Blue Force Tracking display screens in vehicles on-the-move -- and WIN-T can then beam the images over longer distances.

The data will be shown on a Command Post of the Future display screen -- a battle command application which organises and displays a host of relevant battlefield information.

The exercise will also include an air tier with Apache and Black Hawk helicopters and a Shadow UAS configured to function as nodes on the network connecting groups of soldiers to one another who are separated by terrain and do not have a line-of-sight connection.

The exercise is planned as merely an initial step in the broader development of the Army's network.

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