The Phase I prototype was demonstrated in 2005 and the improved Phase II model was tested last
November in an exercise with the 3d
Marine Regiment at the Marine
Corps Forces Pacific experimentation center at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.
That system was mounted on a
Humvee, with relatively small antennas visible on the roof, and the rear
of the vehicle filled with electronics.
ONR has begun Phase III and will
build another prototype that should
be tested in 2010, Moniz said. That
demonstration will include a humanitarian assistance and disaster
response mission, in keeping with
the new emphasis on “soft power”
operations in the Maritime Strategy
released by the Navy, Marine Corps
and Coast Guard in October 2007.
Although the Navy and Marines
frequently are the first responders to
major disasters around the world,
“one of the major shortcomings has
been their inability to have wide band reach-back” from
the disaster area, Moniz said.
They also have not been able to exchange information with non-Defense Department entities, such as
the civilian relief agencies, he said.
One of the things that will be tested in the Phase III
demonstration “is how we can exchange information
with nongovernment agencies on the ground, maybe
allow them to take advantage of our connectivity and,
maybe, within our security guidelines, share some of
our information,” Moniz said.
General Dynamics is the prime contractor for
M2C2, with Honolulu-based Pelatron Inc. the principal subcontractor for integration. Three other small
companies are working on low-profile satellite antennas, network management and interference mitigation.
Holt said the Marines have received funding to
begin transitioning M2C2 systems into the operating
forces, which he expects to occur in fiscal 2012 or
2013. The capability initially would go into command
elements from the battalion up to the Marine
Expeditionary Force level, he said.
In addition to the M2C2 program, Systems Command is watching to see what capabilities come out of
the Army’s Warfighter Information Network-Tactical
(WIN-T) program, Holt said.
The Army has been working on WIN-T for nearly a
decade and has had to restructure and extend what initially was expected to be a 15-year, $5.2 billion effort.
The Mobile Modular Command and Control Enhanced Prototype under contract with the Office of Naval Research is an on-the-move, over-the-horizon
command-and-control communications platform comprising an integrated communications suite carried on a High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle. The
system is shown here during tests in Hawaii Nov. 20.
Holt also wants a system that is highly flexible and
modular so Marines can put different situational
awareness and communications applications in a command vehicle, and can move the capability from one
vehicle to another, perhaps contained in transit cases,
without having to drill holes for antennas.
The M2C2 program has to address two basic technical challenges, Moniz said. To achieve the quick set up,
a different kind of modem is needed that receives and
transmits the digital signal from the satellite. Another
challenge is that the existing satellite terminals were
very large and expensive, he said.
“We and others have been investigating getting
much lower visual signature, but also much lower in
cost,” he said.
One technology being examined in concert with the
Army is an Internet Protocol (IP) modem, Moniz said.
“What this IP modem allows you to do is to establish
very quick connection, to achieve reach-back in minutes, where now it takes hours and a lot of expertise to
achieve satellite communications. Then, when you
move, you have to set up again,” he said.
While the IP modem is available, it is not being supported by the Defense Information Security Agency
(DISA) — the military’s joint information technology
services organization. But DISA is expected to add that
capability in the near future, Moniz said.
ONR has been working on the M2C2 concept since the
end of 2004 and produced two prototype systems, he said.