A central goal of FCS is to extend connectivity to these lower-echelon fighters. But because the military can't rely on preexisting networks of cell towers and cables, it must find alternative methods to move information around the battlefield. Communicating via satellite is part of the answer, but this method fails when soldiers don't have a clear view of the sky, such as inside buildings, on narrow streets, in caves and narrow mountain valleys -- in other words, in the very kinds of environments in which the American military increasingly operates.
To solve this "final mile" problem of linking soldiers and vehicles that are away from command posts and reliable satellite access, FCS hopes to use a device still under development called the Joint Tactical Radio System, or JTRS. Software-controlled JTRS radios link to one another to create local-area networks and form chains all the way back to the nearest command post or vehicle with satellite connectivity to the military's Internet. They function like typical radios -- that is, a soldier can hold one in his hand and use it to talk to another soldier -- and can also transmit data and imagery like cellphones do. Versions of them can be built into sensors, surveillance drones and vehicles to allow those FCS components to communicate too.
Consider how the JTRS system differs from that of your cellphone or laptop. There are more than 200,000 cellphone towers in the U.S., which route communications through an elaborate network of cables and computers. Wireless Internet is only wireless in the limited distance between your laptop and the base station. Even the satellite-Internet services used by people in remote areas eventually tie back to a hardwired network. Since a battlefield environment typically has none of this infrastructure, JTRS radios must pick up all of the slack for moving data around. It's as if each device were both cellphone and tower.
Current Army radios are used primarily in the conventional, walkie-talkie way, and only minimally for data, because they transmit just 2.4 kilobits of information per second. The JTRS units are being designed to manage up to two megabits per second. That's still far slower than a basic home cable-Internet connection. But it will allow the units to handle voice, text and photos. Chris Brady, a vice president at General Dynamics C4 Systems, which is developing the most compact and portable versions of the new radios, calls JTRS "the glue that holds the whole lower tier of FCS together."
When you talk to people about FCS, few bits of military jargon get more airplay than "situational awareness" -- soldier-speak for "knowing what the hell is going on." Knowing the battlefield locations of friends and enemies. That a resupply vehicle is a mile behind you. That insurgents are launching attacks from an abandoned apartment, or that the location is in fact a mosque occupied by civilians. If the JTRS radios are the primary means by which this information will be moved around the battlefield, the purpose of many of the other FCS components is to collect more and better information to feed into the network.
Lots of gee whiz tech here, but the comm system is really an issue. Expecting to have nearly universal availability of secure, reliable, and high tech comm seems an unrealistic expectation.
If the enemy finds a way to jam the net, system effectiveness plummets
Individual radios will be subject to breakdown, batteries, and any comm obstacles (metal walls, etc)
The enemy could capture one or more radios and get an immediate intelligence boost. Worst case scenario, they might figure the system out.
The pentagon has historically been in love with tech as a solution to all of our problems. I'm all for saving as many soldiers lives as possible. But, this system looks as if it might be compromised too easily -- with disastrous reults.
All our military personal are giving up their home lives, and/or their LIVES in war. You'd think the RICH would take interest in this and get on board in some way. Like maybe Bill Gates, whose life revolves around tech.
Most of this just seems too horizontal for my taste. American war should be verticle. We have unquestioned air superiority, so our assits should be airborn. Why put a cannon on the ground to be a target, when you can just arm your UAV?
When the enemy has nothing to shoot, what will he shoot?
American war should look like this:
1) Unmanned high altitude recon of anti-air and communications tech. (if necessary)
2) Coordinated long-range fire on anti-air and communications tech. (if necessary)
3) Cargo UAV deposites armed UAVs to warzone.
4) Using a high altitude communication UAV, guys in Nowheretown Nebraska, command the weapon systems on these UAV drones to eliminate targets (using onboard weapons or relaying coordinates for long range fire)
5) UAVs settle in stategic spots (sniping, survealance, etc) when flight time diminishes to continue to police the contained area.
24 control of any area with the only risk being money and carpel tunnel syndrom for our soldier-techies. End a riot or fight a war with no assets on the ground. That alone takes away any incintive for retaliation and increases American reach by removing barriers to engagement.
"The safty and speed of an ICBM, the descretion of a soldier." (I should TM this and have the military pay me a few million).
How long did it take to develop the field artillery's communication system for faster round on target? I can see this moving along with the same enthusiasm.
Battlefield advantage forever has started from the high ground downward. Today's high ground is outer space. Don't control that and you soon don't control anything.
The UAV Class 1 as Hover looks impressive but it seems to be easy recognized/identidied by the enemy per the picture with Hover parked on the wall outside the building. This is similar to the platform moving on the battlefield which builds with very height multibands antennas to support COTM, what happens if the enemy shoot down or disrupt the device or platform as mentioned? They are easy target recognized/identified by the enemy.
Re: oakspar77777 commentary, to wit:
I dunno, sounds a lil' too George Orwell to me.
Since when did modern day warfare become a videogame
my kid could play from his bedroom.
Anyone else disturbed by this trend? Or am I the
only one who remembers Mathew Broderick in "War Games"?
By the way, what's new on the cyber terror front?
Anyone paying attention?
I'm just sayin'.
I thought it was pretty cool that they took WALL-E from the movie and put him out in real life in the Army.
think the enemy could only listen in only if we were doing a mission anywhere near them
the ds has wiifi and you can only be 30ft away fro;m the host but if their is another berson between you and the host then u can be 30ft away from them and be well out of the host range and still be able to talk on pictochat
so maybe the army should widen the length of hte wyfiee conection ar somthing maybe encrypt it