Mission Network: At-The-Halt
Tactical Network Transport-At The Halt (TNT-ATH) enables mission command and robust voice, video, and data communications for global data exchange from anywhere on the planet. It leverages a combination of both line-of-sight (radio) and beyond-line-of-sight (satellite/tropospheric) communications nodes for multipath diversity and resiliency in contested environments. These robust network communications systems operate at-the-halt and deliver a real-time common operating picture to enable Commanders to make rapid informed decisions. To support expanding network requirements and improve the readiness of today’s operational force, the Army continues to modernize the TNT-ATH capability, improving mobility, computing power, and interoperability, while optimizing and increasing bandwidth and resiliency in congested and contested environments.
The Network Integration Technology Enhancement (NITE) modernization effort refreshes the Army’s widely-fielded TNT-ATH equipment, which is reaching end of life. In a unified network approach, NITE leverages new technology and pre-existing Tactical Network products for a common user experience. This modular refreshed ATH network baseband solution will provide more computing power; reduced size, weight and power (SWaP) and equipment setup time for increased mobility; while increasing usability, network resiliency and equipment flexibility and extending service life. Following a successful unit pilot of NITE prototypes that leveraged Soldier feedback to inform design and fielding decisions, PM Tactical Network fielded NITE to the first units in 4QFY21.
The modular NITE solution provides a more than 200 percent increase in computing power, while reducing SWaP and equipment setup time for increased mobility. The equipment is also easier to operate and maintain. These benefits are derived from new commercial hardware, software and virtualization technologies. The new modular equipment will be deployed in transit cases with tow handles and wheels, and improve the current shelter solution, increasing maneuverability, commonality within the TNT-ATH portfolio and operational flexibility. NITE also reduces system power requirements, enabling the use of vehicle power for short-term at-the-quick-halt operations. Soldiers can simply pull over to the side of the road during convoys or relocating the command posts and rapidly power up their Command Post Nodes (CPNs) using vehicle power and a cable, versus having to set up a separate generator.
- The Army’s TNT-ATH has three main transportable network nodes that provide high-speed wide area network capability for secure voice, video and data exchange. The Tactical Hub Node (THN) and Joint Network Node (JNN) support division headquarters; the JNN also supports brigade combat team level headquarters; and the Command Post Node (CPN) supports battalion level headquarters and smaller-sized units. PdM Mission Network is currently piloting emergent technology prototypes to modernize legacy configurations, address obsolescence and provide the robust expeditionary network communication enhancements needed to support Multi Domain Operations.
- The STT is a highly transportable and mobile satellite system, which operates in conjunction with the JNN and CPN. It is designed to establish secure voice, video and data communications virtually anytime and anywhere. As part of its network modernization efforts, PdM Mission Network also piloted enhanced STT prototypes that increase capability, modularity, mobility, and operational flexibility, while reducing SWaP for a more expeditionary force. The Army fielded the first units with modernized STTs in 4QFY21 in conjunction with the new NITE equipment fieldings.
- Based on an expeditionary Joint Communications Support Element (JCSE)-like concept, the Army piloted and has begun fielding the Scalable Network Node (SNN) in support of the Expeditionary Signal Battalion (ESB) modernization and other expeditionary formations. The SNN provides a significant reduction in the footprint requirements of an ESB, replacing all of its JNN, CPN, STT, and Single Shelter Switch (SSS) equipment items within a formation with a single equipment kit. The smaller footprint of the SNN and reduced complexity of the kit has enabled modernized ESBs, known as the ESB-Enhanced (ESB-E) formations, to significantly increase their Command Post support, while reducing transportation requirements by over 60 percent. The SNN can be setup in minutes, and each SNN can immediately begin to support operations using an included 1kW generator until the support unit is able to provide increased power.
- The largest type of network node, the Regional Hub Node (RHN), is a large fixed installation and is used to support theater-level operations. The five regionally located RHNs enable global connectivity to transport information both within theater and around the world. They support joint training and real-world contingency operations, as well as humanitarian, disaster relief and national emergency response.
- The Global Agile Integrated Transport (GAIT) network design interconnects the RHNs -- and can also interconnect Department of Defense (DOD) Teleport Sites -- to create a global network mesh that enables high-capacity data exchange from anywhere on the planet. Additionally, with the evolution of the architecture, units can now also choose to transport data directly between over 150 GAIT Points of Presence (PoPs) -- located at military formations, including divisions, corps, theater tactical signal brigades and special users – without the need to leverage the RHNs or teleports. This simplifies network transport even further, and adds multipath diversity to increase network robustness and resiliency. GAIT enables commands with dispersed units around the globe to maintain mission command and network operations capabilities from their home station or forward- deployed headquarters. It delivers a more unified and robust network, enabling current expeditionary network capabilities and laying the ground work for future network transport innovation. GAIT is a cornerstone in the Army’s two-year incremental network modernization Capability Set efforts, posturing the service to meet its multi domain operation goals for 2028.