Is it possible for U.S. Army troops that use Android smartphones, tablets, and mobile devices to have special apps that use wireless networks for military battlefields?

Under present circumstances, a U.S. Army unit leader needs to be looking over the shoulder of a UAV or robot operator just to see video feeds displayed on the small screen from the cameras in the UAVs and robots. Aside from being annoying, this also presents significant restrictions for the leader and the operator.

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Encrypted Video Sent To Smart Phones
Using networking hardware currently installed for the U.S. Army, and Android software, the Army was able to put together a system that can transmit the encrypted video to tablets, smartphones or mobile devices which the unit leader (or the troops) can view from wherever they are situated. While some problems cropped up along the development stage, the basic idea works and needs a few more tweaks to make it fully functional.

CS13: Capability Set 13 For US Army Combat Troops
This is an essential addition to the new communications system CS13 (Capability Set 13) designed and created for the U.S. Army combat troops. CS13 had been tested in 2013 by four brigades. The system consists of different technologies that the Army has been developing since the 90s. This includes Nett Warrior – networking available down to the squad leader.

  • Warfighter Information Network-Tactical Increment 2 (WIN-T) – battlefield Internet
  • Blue Force Tracking 2 (BFT 2) – to track troop location in real-time
  • Company Command Post – providing more data to company commanders
  • Tactical radios
  • Combat smartphones and tablets
  • The U.S. Army combat troops leverage CS13 in Afghanistan to communicate and carry out combat missions.

Battlefield Internet
CS13 resulted from over a decade of developmental work to create better communications for the battlefield including the Internet for the combat zone. Between 2012 and 2013, the Army troops tested 115 systems.

Feedback from the troops was about wanting a system that offers the same wireless capabilities which they already enjoy with their tablets and smartphones and having military apps for such devices.

U.S. Army Achievements
So far, the U.S. Army had been playing catch up the best way it can, and has achieved the following:

  • WIN-T – designed to allow troops to exchange video, data, voice, and text using a new generation of radios.
  • Personal computers and smartphones can now hook into WIN-T
  • Joint-Capabilities Release (JCR) – the latest BFT version which allows the electronic link to everyone in a combat brigade while in combat. This is used by troops and vehicles and has better encryption and improved reliability

Blue Force Tracking (BFT): A GPS/Satellite Data Receiver
All of these are part of an effort that started in 2003 when BFT was first used as a GPS/satellite data receiver and installed in thousands of combat vehicles. BFT allows everyone with a satellite data receiver, a laptop, and the right software and access code to see where everyone is on a map.

This got the attention of generals resulting in developing and building new versions of the BFT, namely BFT2 and JCR. BFT has revolutionized how commanders handle their troops in the battlefield.

Radio Communication Equipment For CS13
CS13 requires radio communication equipment along with TACOM heavy-duty military headsets, which currently includes:

  • AN/PRC-117G
  • AN/PRC-154
  • Combat smartphone

CS13 has already been providing capabilities that prior to September 11, 2001, were not even conceivable. Opportunities to try out new equipment under combat conditions accelerated the development process of more advanced systems that help U.S. Army troops on the battlefield.

How high-tech can the U.S. Army be on the battlefield in the next five years?

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3 thoughts on “Networking For U.S. Army Combat Troops On The Battlefield”

  1. If you don’t follow the defense business closely, then you can be excused for believing that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is in trouble. a Lockheed Martin consultant wrote five years ago, a few weeks before the program office director was fired in disgrace. His replacement found that the published schedule was 3-4 years adrift from reality. I read about how the Marines will likely declare initial operational capability this year, come hell or high water, and the latter is unlikely to be an issue at Arizona’s MCAS Yuma.

  2. The wars of the past decade exposed an “innovation gap that forced the U.S. military to play catch up, and react to enemy tactics such as roadside bombs and sniper attacks rather than anticipating them. The Defense Department’s research-and-development apparatus was slow to respond with new and improved weapons based on changing threats. But how can they improve when critics have called for the Pentagon to stop wasting money on science projects that target undefined hypothetical future wars?

  3. The development of this Blue Force Tracking 2 and the next-generation satellite network is evident specifically in the case of one particular and popular ground vehicle that is used by the U.S. Army. By the way, this vehicle looked to me like it was featured in the film, “American Sniper. After bringing a “one-two” punch of survivability and tactical mobility to the field in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Army’s combat-proven Stryker vehicle is now getting a high-speed network upgrade.

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