Naval forces explore options to satisfy growing communications demands
By OTTO KREISHER, Special Correspondent
It’s All About Bandwidth
To help meet the ever-growing demand for rapid,
global communications — and to accommodate the larger amounts of intelligence data and
imagery being sent — the Navy is preparing to field a
new constellation of communications satellites, called
the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS).
But Navy officials know that improved military satellites alone cannot satisfy the insatiable need for communication bandwidth as highly mobile Navy and Marine
Corps operations become increasingly network-centric.
As a result, the offices responsible for the naval services’
communications networks also focus much of their
effort, and a considerable amount of money, on systems
and methods that enable more efficient use of available
bandwidth to get more data to the warfighters.
These include new terminal systems that enable
ships and other operational units to receive more
incoming information — from military and commercial satellites — and a sophisticated automated switching system that will enable more data to flow through
“People have a tendency, when they think about the
Navy and communications, [to] think about satcom
[satellite communication] exclusively,” said Rear Adm. Sandy Daniels,
the reserve assistant for Communication Networks on the Navy staff.
“It’s important to remember that the
Navy, being an expeditionary service, as well as working in a very net-centric environment in today’s world
— meaning that all of our platforms
need to be connected, whether
they’re ashore or underway — we
need to look at this from an architectural standpoint.”
Daniels cited three elements of the
Navy communications architecture.
One is the Global Information
Grid, the terrestrial computer networks managed primarily by the Defense Information
Services Agency (DISA). Next is the “tactical line-of-sight-and-beyond-line-of-sight” system, which is basically radio links between platforms.
“Traditionally, those have been voice, although there’s
been a long-term, low-rate [data] capability,” Daniels
said, adding that the Navy is doing studies on tactical
networking that show some potential for increasing the
data flow from very low kilobit rates into megabit rates.
The third element is satellite communications, “and
we depend on that, obviously, because it’s global,”
The Air Force is the nation’s executive agent for
space and has the overall responsibility for the protected bandwidth and the wide bandwidth satellite communications capabilities, Daniels said.
The satellite systems currently operated by Air Force
Space Command include Milstar, which “provides global, secure, protected and jam-resistant strategic and tactical communications” for all the services, according to an
Air Force publication. It will be replaced by the joint
service Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF)
system, which will provide more than 10 times the per-
The naval services are employing new satellites to increase communication capacity while at the same time working on systems
and methods to enable more efficient use of available bandwidth.
■ Architectural elements such as the Global Information Grid are
key to Navy efforts to bolster its network-centric environment.
■ The Navy Multi-band Terminal will provide protected, anti-jam,
wideband communication services for approximately 300 ships,
submarines and shore stations.
■ Commercial satellites are playing a larger role in naval forces