MANHASSET, N.Y. Three of the largest U.S. military contractors have announced they will support development of an open-standard mesh networking system as an extension to the Defense Department's specification for a Common Data Link (CDL).
Cubic Defense Applications (San Diego), Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems (El Segundo, Calif.), and Rockwell Collins (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) made the announcement at the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems conference in Baltimore. Other military contractors are evaluating and commenting on this initiative with the intent of joining in the near future.
The initiative among the three companies aligns with a government funded project aimed at creating the specifications for the next-generation CDL. Program Executive Office (PEO) C4I and Space, PMW 170, is currently leading the tri-service effort to develop the next generation Common Data Link.
Common Data Link is the DoD's standard for high data rate radios that connect sensor aircraft and users of their data.
"The initiative of these system developers to seek a truly open definition represents a major success in the government's effort to ensure interoperability among different vendors' CDL equipment," said Eric Campbell of PMW-170, the program manager for the JTRS (Joint Tactical Radio Systems) CDL specification study, in a statement.
"We need the next generation CDL specification to be available to all and sufficiently detailed that any terminal built in compliance with it will connect to similar terminals from other vendors," Campbell added.
Mesh networking enables many stationary or mobile platforms to be linked together with data radios that automatically organize themselves into a communications network. With the high-speed connections a CDL network can provide, the platforms will be able to share a real-time common battlefield picture built on images and sensor data from all players.
Gateway nodes in the CDL mesh network will create bridges to allow it to connect with long-haul, backbone circuits and with wireless local area networks, enabling high-speed connections from battlefield soldiers to command organizations and information resources throughout the Defense Department.
Key to creation of such a mesh network is the addition of multiple-access modes to the existing standards for CDL. The new capabilities allow CDL to make better use of its allotted spectrum and enable many nodes to share a single frequency channel. The multiple-access waveform will be incorporated in the new software communications architecture-compliant versions of CDL.