A critical requirement of any military or quasi-military networked system is the need to exchange tactical data at all levels amongst all users through a standardized messaging format or tactical data link (TDL). The need for reasonable ranges in wireless environments will continue to mean that the practical, maximum available bandwidth (that which is actually available for transmitting data) will be restricted. While IP protocols will certainly allow the use of familiar applications such as word and email, the use of these in an operational environment can cause the network to collapse with insufficient bandwidth.
Tactical Data Store
All entities (tracks, vehicles, weapons etc.) are stored in a Tactical Data Store, and Intaero has developed data stores that are totally reliable and exceptionally fast. For each entity defined in the Tactical Data Store entity register a corresponding message/messages is defined in the Link, which also supports the dissemination of commands and entity status.
The Common Operating Environment
The Common Operating Environment is the foundation for building a shared system and Intaero has considerable experience of developing many elements of a Common Operating Environment including:
- Real time, tactical data store
- Tactical data link based on but mapped, formatted messages
- Track correlation
- Data encryption
- Communications management
- Common Operating Picture
- Mission applications
Common Operating Picture
DEPICTOR has been designed and configured to function effectively in civil as well as military environments, using commercially available communication links. Depictor uses either MilStd icons or graphical icons and is able to display all ground, air, surface and sub-surface elements together with all their associated data and update them in real time.Depictor also features a GIS-based GUI to enable it to be used as a planning and analysis tool.
Depictor enables all users to communicate digitally with each other, and to share information between, for example, the police and security forces. Depictor runs on the latest, rugged, tablet computers and android smart phones, it also supports multiple protocols and communication formats to enable easy integration into existing systems and data communications.
Tactical Data Links
The Tactical Data Link allows for the exchange of real time data amongst operational units. The real time data consists of sensor-derived information, own units position, status etc. and allows for the command and control of units participating on the link. It also has to reflect the specific way in which the services fight the battle and interact, which makes each data link specific to the operational requirements of the users.
Intaero has worked with NATO links (Links 11, 16, 22 etc.) which come with a radio and US-based encryption. However not all countries have access to these links and as part of the COE we have developed an open, Tactical Data Link, based on bit mapped, formatted message (Essentially J-series messages), which allows all data to be transmitted in it’s smallest binary format. The link incorporates communications management enabling it to operate over any means of communication. It has been demonstrated operationally with many radios including Harris (IP), Rohde & Schwarz (SECOS TDMA), Aselsan (IP, Broadcast or polling) and MESH radios
Data Link Exchange
Interoperability is the single most important element in planning a networked system to replace more traditional platform-based equipment. New systems cannot replace the old overnight, particularly when the legacy system is in fact many systems, which communicate using many different protocols.
Even new systems, using approved data links and protocols will often not be interoperable, particularly when trying to interface systems from different manufacturers and services in real time, for example interfacing a land picture with an air picture to give a join forces air defence picture. Currently new software is required for each link (Protocol) to Link (Protocol) conversion. However, new software means delays, reliability issues etc.
Intaero has developed a tool comprising an online and offline system that allows operators to connect together different data links / protocols without writing any software.
The online element comprises libraries of all low level conversions required (conversion definition files which instruct the runtime system how to convert the information from one data link (or data stream) to another. The tool defines each conversion process from a third party format into a standard format (currently Link 16). Once converted it is saved as a file and never needs to be converted again. This method enables companies to define the conversion file without having to divulge their proprietary format to other users.
The offline element is an easy to use Graphical User Interface that looks like a drawing tool. The left had side of the screen describes the incoming message while the right side has the database (or data stream) to which it will be converted. At the bottom has selection of available conversion while the “construction” area in the middle defines the conversion and saves the result to file to be used in real time by the online element