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 October 3, 2014

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Joint Range Extension May Be Answer to Coast Guard Data Link Woes

By WILLIAM MATTHEWS, Special Correspondent

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Of all the services burdened with “disadvantaged platforms,” the Coast Guard is the most disadvantaged of all, said Jay Donoho of Engility Corp.

Disadvantaged platforms, Donoho said, are aircraft, ships, boats or other vehicles that lack tactical data links. They don’t have systems able to receive situational awareness and display it on electronic maps showing real time locations of friendly and enemy forces.

The cash-strapped Coast Guard has never been able to afford data links like Link 16, Link 11 or Situation Awareness Data Link (SADL), Donoho said during a presentation at the Sea-Air-Space Exposition April 8. Link11 JDOTS Brochure

But the Coast Guard can afford JRE, Engility’s Joint Range Extension data link gateway.


JRE Version Fielded to USMC

The USMC has approved JRE version for fielding with TAOM, MTAOM and CAC2S Phase 1.

JRE Version successfully completed testing at the Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity (MCTSSA) in 2013 Q4 and Marine Corps Systems Command (MARCORSYSCOM) has approved fielding for their Tactical Air Operations Module (TAOM), Mobile Tactical Air Operations Module (MTAOM) and Common Aviation Command and Control System (CAC2S) Phase 1 systems. JRE Version replaces version and provides the Marines with Link-16 Time Slot Reallocation (TSR), Link-16 Secondary Track Number Management and JREAP-C Multicast. There are over 36 additional key features in this latest version including VMF (TCP/IP and UDP/IP) to Link-16 Forwarding, SADL 11Z, Combat Survivor Evader Locator (CSEL), Nationwide Automatic Identification System (NAIS), Eagle Eye Compression (i.e. J16. 0 Imagery).


Establishing BLOS Capability

Using an innovative approach with non-integrated PRC-117F radios, the B-2 first obtained rudimentary BLOS Link 16 capability with Northrop's Gateway Manager in late 2005. With very long range, "Global Strike" missions being the routine, the B-2 community continued searching for the best options available, and evaluated JRE during the fall of 2007. In early 2008, the decision was made to replace Gateway Manager with the same JRE system as the B-1, using a USB RDA cable to the PRC-117F, and a DAGR GPS, but hosted on a 1U, rack mounted, Crystal processor. The concept matured into a dual system called ACS (Adaptable Communications Suite).


Military Communications and Information Systems (MilCIS) 2011 Demonstration
The 2011 Military Communications and Information Systems (MilCIS) conference was held in Canberra, Australia, during November. > Learn More




MilCIS 2011 demonstration

The 2011 Military Communications and Information Systems (MilCIS) conference was held in Canberra, Australia, during November. The MilCIS conference is the premier gathering of defense and government organizations, as well as research, academia and industry members from Australia and around the globe. Its aim is to facilitate ongoing discussion of current and future defense requirements, capabilities and technological solutions.

Throughout the 2011 MilCIS, a series of live tactical information exchange domain (TIED) demonstrations were jointly presented by the Tactical Information Exchange Integration Office (TIEIO) and the Australian/New Zealand chapter of the International Data Link Society (IDLSoc).

Rohde & Schwarz collaborated with the US-based Joint Range Extension (JRE) team from L-3 in San Diego in order to demonstrate the capability of the and to pass the Joint Range Extension Application Protocol (JREAP-C) IP data over an HF link using the xDL protocol variant of the HDL+ high rate data link protocol.

The xDL protocols provide a transparent IP interface that allows users to implement standard IP-based applications and transmit the IP data stream beyond line of sight (BLOS) using the R&S®M3SR Series4100 HF radios and R&S®M3TR tactical radios.

Scenario and setup

The primary goal of Rohde & Schwarz was to show the R&S®M3SR and R&S®M3TR radios’ capability to successfully transmit and receive IP data using the xDL protocols embedded within the radios’ ALE-3G protocol stack.

For L-3, the main aim was to display the JRE system’s capability to successfully transmit and receive JREAP-C IP data via a BLOS HF radio bearer.

Combined, these two capabilities enable a real-world scenario of passing a tactical data stream from a tactical data link (TDL) capable platform (e.g. a major surface combatant with a Link 16 / Link 11 capability) to a TDL disadvantaged platform (e.g. a patrol vessel without an inherent TDL capability onboard). This scenario can be expanded to include passing data from land sites to vehicular platforms, helicopter platforms, dismounted soldiers, etc.

The block diagram below shows the setup displayed at MilCIS. The system on the left-hand side represents the major surface combatant or land station capability. This station converts the original link formatted data into the JREAP-C (UDP/IP) variant for transmission over the R&S®M3SR Series4100 HF radio.

On the right-hand side, the TDL disadvantaged platform is represented, with only the R&S®M3TR MR3000 tactical radio and a JRE capable user terminal (e.g. a CF-52 Toughbook or the L-3 JRE Enabled TacView (JET)) required to provide the platform with a TDL capability.

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Joint-range Extension Linking Global Network 
By Daryl Mayer, Electronic Systems Center Public Affairs / Published March 16, 2004

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HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. (AFPN) -- An Electronic Systems Center-developed product, now deployed in operational theaters worldwide, is linking information cells together into a global network to give warfighters broader communication ability.

Joint-Range Extension is a hardware and software system that receives information transmitted on a tactical data link in a particular area of operations and forwards that information to another tactical data link terminal beyond the line of sight.

With JRE in the field, the impact on access to situational awareness data and time-critical targeting is dramatic, said 1st Lt. Jim Horne, JRE program manager for the tactical data links, gateways and network management system program office here.

He said a B-2 Spirit bomber taking off from Missouri can receive real-time data from the battlefield half way around the world. Throughout its approach, the B-2 crew can receive updates on weather information, location of friendly forces and other data that would otherwise be available only after the aircraft arrived in the target area.

"You can update the mission, even change its target, all while it is en route to the theater," Lieutenant Horne said.

As tactical data link technology evolved throughout the 1990s, increasing information was available to warfighters both in the air and on the ground, Lieutenant Horne said. But that information was only accessible within the tactical data link transmitters' roughly 300-mile range, and none of the various data links were interoperable with the others -- negating much of the information's value.

"Our main task in the gateway vision is to solve that problem," he said. "We had huge communications bogs out there. Forces couldn't communicate across the battlefield because the systems were ‘proprietary).’"

JRE was developed to function in this situation much like a router commonly used in home and business computer networks, he said. JRE gathers information between the various air, ground and sea forces operating in a given area and routes that information across the different data links, effectively creating a wide-area network. It also takes information and transmits it to other routers, linking together other networks much in the same way the Internet links the entire globe.

"JRE uses a variety of secure media, including satellite communications, telephones and Internet protocols to essentially extend the coverage area beyond the line of sight," Lieutenant Horne said.

In the future, the ground-based JRE will work in concert with the Roll-on Beyond Line of Sight Enhancement system, or ROBE, which provides tactical data link information to and from KC-135 Stratotankers acting as aerial relays.

ROBE is known as a "kick-down-the-door" system, meaning it can bring this capability into inaccessible areas or terrain that friendly forces do not own, whereas JRE offers the continuity of a permanent ground station, Lieutenant Horne said.

"They complement each other and, in the end, offer much more flexibility," he said.

JRE systems were used during operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Lieutenant Horne said there are currently 25 systems still supporting that theater, as well as three systems Marine Corps units are using and four Missile Defense Agency experts are using.

Now in its third phase of development and with data from the interim fielding in hand, the next evolution is in the wings. In its current version the actual JRE hardware that deploys into the field is a rugged server roughly the size of a typical desktop computer, Lieutenant Horne said. Future versions will reduce this size substantially.

The vision is to work toward a software-only package that is also operating system-independent, meaning it could run on a Macintosh, Windows, or Unix-based computer, Lieutenant Horne said.

"We are migrating the code to Java, and then it can be hosted on any platform," he said.

This version is slated for the field in 2006.

"The goal for JRE as well as all the other gateways, like ROBE, gateway manager and air defense systems integrator, is the objective gateway, where all these systems will be able to do the same jobs in the same way, leading to a completely interoperable network," Lieutenant Horne said. (Courtesy of Air Force Materiel Command News Service)

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