JTNC Strives for Joint Waveform Interoperability

The staff of the Joint Defense Tactical Network Center of the United States Department of Defense constantly insists on improving the interoperability of waveforms used jointly in the military to save costs, improve communications and ultimately fight more effectively.

The center, which is known as JTNC, supports the rapid identification, characterization, supply, targeting and maintenance of communication products that provide secure, interoperable and robust command, control, communication, computer, intelligence, surveillance and intelligence capabilities. It supports the Office of the Deputy Minister of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, the Chief Information Officer of the Ministry of Defense and various service initiatives by providing technical expertise on waveforms and facilitating the standardization of key interface formats. the wave. The intention is to minimize duplication of waveform development, increase the reuse of wireless communications software, promote effective information sharing and integrate management and control capabilities, according to the center’s website.

As part of its core responsibilities, the JTNC maintains a waveform information repository. It contains the source code of software signal forms and supporting technical data, including all signal forms approved by the command, control and communications department. These waveforms and related information are available to everyone in the department, saving time and money on a wide range of programs.

“This is very important because the exclusive value of the JTNC for the department is to make sure that the waveform information can be reused for other activities under a government program contract,” says Kurt Reese, director of the JTNC. “This will allow initiatives to be taken to speed up traffic, but will also make it possible to control the costs of these new contracts that use these products.”

However, the Ministry of Defense officials found that in fact not all waveforms that need to be included in the repository are. “Many of the more popular forms of waves, they work with us, multi-services work with us, but there is a long list of people who have not followed the recommendation to put this information in the information repository,” Reese reports. “It simply came to our notice then. Maybe it wasn’t planned. Maybe it wasn’t affordable. Maybe they just didn’t know how to follow the process at the time. “

A sponsor is assigned to each waveform in the department. For major waveforms, such as Link 16, Tactical Targeting Network Technology (TTNT) and Mobile User Objective System, sponsoring organizations are well known, but this is not the case for all waveforms. “I’d say most waveform sponsors don’t even know they’re hired for a waveform,” Reese said, adding that “probably two-thirds of the waveforms that exist today are not in storage.” “We are currently working on this … to provide the top 10 waveforms to follow the process, and we will hopefully reduce the number of mismatched waveforms. The aim is for the signals to be controlled by the government so that we can maintain interoperability. “

In recent years, the Defense Ministry’s chief information officer has conducted what Reese called “waveform data calling” and compiled a list of existing waveforms, waveform information, and appointed sponsors. But many of these sponsors may face challenges that prevent their products from being included in the repository, which carries some associated costs. “Not all waveforms are fully funded. “Not all program offices have the resources to do what I would call inherent wave service activities,” he said.

He also said: “Some of these wave forms have been around for a long time and I would say that they are probably a bit stagnant in terms of acquiring the Ministry of Defense. There is probably no chance of funding these activities. “

However, Reese emphasizes that adding waveforms to the repository ultimately saves money on other programs. He cites small unmanned aerial systems and weapon systems as examples. “Obviously there is a signal to look for new terminals with new waveforms for certain technologies to enter these terminals with a small form factor,” he said.

JTNC employees encourage program managers or executives who plan to develop waveform technology for a new contract to coordinate earlier with JTNC if the waveform is intended for large-scale multifunctional use. “The aim is to ensure that the contract has the appropriate results of the contract to ensure that the developed wave technology can be reused for other service applications. This will allow opportunities to be delivered faster and much more affordable, ”he says.

JTNC employees expect to develop new potential waveforms for emerging markets such as drones and weapons. It would be ideal for these types of efforts to be coordinated earlier with the JTNC to ensure value. The related benefits of the information repository are well understood before these elements are contracted.

He illustrates the challenge with an analogy. “You can just imagine, if you are a private consumer and you buy TV remotes and each TV has a different working language, it will really be a mess in your house. We try to avoid that, “he explains. “We try to ensure that everyone has this common waveform, common communication standards and connected interfaces. In doing so, there is a huge cost avoidance, but it also gives the department a high confidence that we will be interoperable when this system is implemented. “

The JTNC director also cites Link 16 and TTNT as role models. The Link 16 Tactical Network is a NATO standard used by more than 50 countries on a wide variety of weapons systems, including fighters, bombers, ships, missiles and unmanned systems. Although it has been around for some time, new terminals are still being built. The Link 16 waveform is in the information repository to maintain interoperability, he noted.

TTNT is an Internet-based, high-speed, ad hoc data link network designed to allow tactical aircraft to target fast-moving and time-critical targets. The TTNT network also provides a high-performance and low-latency solution for flight safety and other applications requiring real-time information.

“There are efforts for a role model that JTNC would like to emulate. Current examples include Link 16 and TTNT’s waveform efforts, ”Reese said.

The center also helps the Department of Defense find sufficiently stable waveforms to offer a low probability of interception and a low probability of detection. Part of the challenge, Reese reports, is that many of the waveforms and information about them are proprietary and not included in the repository.

“What will lead to the main thing is that the technology is contracted with a single source environment, and the application for other users, other types of terminals may be limited. So, one of our biggest goals is to try to work through our own business and make sure that it makes sense to program executives and program managers and all services, ”the director suggests.

Adding waveforms to the repository is not the JTNC’s only mission. With the explosion of cell phone use, the Department of Defense has to share or give up large parts of the spectrum it typically uses, and employees continue to struggle with the best way to do so. “We are asked to get involved in the field of dynamic spectrum sharing. We are reducing our spectrum, and military systems must have a redistribution of spectrum. We are creating a subgroup to commit to this, ”Reese reports.

JTNC has evolved from the Executive Office of the Joint Tactical Radio System Program. The aim was to develop a family of radio stations capable of communicating with a wide range of military and commercial radio stations. JTNC, with a staff of about 65 full-time employees, still occupies the same office space as the former joint program at Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego. “We are the remnants of this entire program executive office, so our people are experts in software-defined radios, waveforms and related network technologies,” he said.

Reese, who took over as director about a year ago, has shown a desire to expand the center beyond its core functions. He wants to help the military solve its interoperability issues. “Our command is stretching. We stretch our people as much as possible to make sure we over-serve and perform our core functions. More importantly, we are expanding our people with experience in some of these areas of growth, ”he says. “JTNC is of exceptional value by focusing on joint information challenges related to software-defined radios, waveforms and network products. If there is a search signal that is affecting combat, we try to raise our hands and stretch our resources to deal with the problem. “