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The NIKs, now being mounted on MRAPs and M-ATVs at Fort Bliss, Texas, are engineered with technology that can receive and distribute data, voice, video, and images across the force using multiple high-bandwidth waveforms. By providing "networked" combat-relevant information such as sensor feeds from a UAV across the force in real time, the NIKs may help MRAPs/M-ATVs overcome some of their mobility restrictions and provide increased awareness for soldiers traveling in the vehicles.

Increased System Performance and Reliability

As part of this evolution, Webb then revealed a number of hardware issues that have contributed to the new performance and reliability characteristics across the "Increment 1" capabilities package.

"What we did differently this year, in the run-up to our currently ongoing set of operational tests, was to really focus on reliability," he said. "That really was a bellwether - last year - making us realize that we really weren't 'ready for prime time' yet. So, after last year's Limited User Test [LUT '09], working with the prime contractor and their suppliers, they went back and really looked at the designs of the equipment, the failure modes that were noted last year, and performed the analysis and engineering work to address and prioritize those key high payoff reliability fixes." 0 The result was 160 corrective actions across the E-IBCT "Increment j| 1" systems, including 86 design changes.

g- As an example of the process, he noted that the NIK consists of

« the Integrated Computer System, the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS)

The NIKs, now being mounted on MRAPs and M-ATVs at Fort Bliss, Texas, are engineered with technology that can receive and distribute data, voice, video, and images across the force using multiple high-bandwidth waveforms. By providing "networked" combat-relevant information such as sensor feeds from a UAV across the force in real time, the NIKs may help MRAPs/M-ATVs overcome some of their mobility restrictions and provide increased awareness for soldiers traveling in the vehicles.

M777A2s are being evaluated as an alternative precision fires asset for the BCTs in place of the cancelled NLOS-LS "missile in a box" system. The M777A2 shown here was being evaluated at White Sands Missile Range.

Ground Mobile Radio (GMR), and ground platform communications equipment, explaining, "Last year we were utilizing the GMR 'pre-engineering development model' radio. And there were some fairly significant limitations, most notably with its physical capability to withstand heat. So we were having to do some interesting things in terms of air-conditioning and cooling to keep those radios fully functioning. But it is a completely different story this year. Albeit it is now an 'engineering development model' radio, it has withstood the entire summer with nary a heat issue."

Webb continued, "Now we will be going through the NIK IQT [Initial Qualification Testing] this week [early August], kicking it off with environmental testing. We have already done a small subset of that earlier this summer and it has already shown a marked improvement.

"The reason we had to do that thermal testing was that we entered this year with the program baseline showing the Network Integration Kit installed on HMMWV platforms. But TRADOC and other Army leadership said, 'We really need to replicate with our testing the way that the systems might see activity in theater.' So the direction was to move from HMMWV-based NIK platforms to MRAP-based NIKs. And that was an integration effort conducted from this office right here that very quickly applied the NIK to four different variations of MRAP, most notably the M-ATV. On M-ATV, the NIK is externally mounted in the bed of the truck, as opposed to the cab, so it doesn't enjoy any of the crew climatic cooling. We wanted to ensure that the NIK could withstand the vibration and heat of that environment, so Jerry Tyree, the PEO - Integration engineering lead on the ground here at White Sands, conducted some initial thermal testing and it went very well," he said.

"So major changes with NIK involved a different platform and significant upgrades to the GMR radio," he added.

For the Class I UAS, a significant change over the past year has been the addition of the DDL [digital data link] radio, which has satisfied issues of robustness in terms of security. Additional peripheral items, ranging from an electric defueler/fueler to a canvas "launch pad," have also been introduced.

Webb said that the main change on the SUGV involves a change to the Thermite computer operator's processor, in which the spinning

Soldiers from 5th Brigade, 1st Armored Division, Army Evaluation Task Force, watch as Gen. George W. Casey Jr., Army chief of staff, operates the remote control to the small unmanned ground vehicle at White Sands Missile Range, N.M.

disk memory storage format was replaced with a solid-state memory device.

"That did two things. It took away some mechanical aspects of a rotating disk - and reliability concerns. Also it protects the unit against some of the heat failures we saw in the past. So again, this year, we have not seen any heat failures with that solid-state Thermite computer," he said.

"For the T-UGS, there have been a host of changes, most notably software upgrades," he said. "In addition, another major change from last year has been the development of the 'kit' by which the system is transported on soldiers' backs. So that has included inserts to the standard MOLLE [Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment] pack as well as the fabrication of pouches that allow a team to configure a T-UGS based upon mission needs and their anticipated use. Similarly, with the U-UGS, they have developed a means of efficiently transporting the sensors so that a two-man team can quickly go through a building with one man carrying the sensors while the other quickly removes them and places them along the way."

Another change to the unattended ground sensors has been the elimination of the "Range Extension Relay" that was required in 2009.

"We employed it to increase the range from either a T-UGS gateway or U-UGS gateway to the controlling NIK-equipped vehicle," Webb noted. "With the addition of the JTRS HMS [Handheld, Manpack, Small Form Fit] radio and its corresponding Soldier Radio Waveform, we no longer need a range extension capability to get from the gateway and meet the TRADOC requirement to get back to the NIK. We can now do it straight from the gateway to the NIK through the HMS radio, SRW waveform, and a new 'fabric mast' that elevates the gateway antenna."

Summarizing the hardware enhancements, Webb offered, "Based upon some of the hard lessons learned over last [2009] summer, during Limited User Testing '09, and robust engineering efforts, the systems now meet most if not all of their performance and reliability requirements."

In addition to the primary hardware and software upgrades, the availability of enhanced versions of new JTRS radio waveforms, including the Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW 1.0C EW) and Wideband Networking Waveform (WNW 4.0) have led to remarkable improvements in range performance (now greater than 11 kilometers for SRW and greater than 30 kilometers for WNW) and have helped open the door to expanded tactics, techniques, and procedures.

As an example, Webb offered that using WNW "as the passenger train" is allowing AETF to explore new soldier applications and capabilities, including chat, file sharing for routine orders, and whiteboard capabilities to annotate transmitted images.

Success happens through great teamwork. URS works with its DoD partners from the earliest stages of a system acquisition through its sustainment. Our people work alongside our customers to solve engineering challenges, improve business processes and repair or restore systems essential to meet mission requirements. No matter the place or people involved, our engineers, mechanics, technicians and logisticians are committed to the same goal - your success.

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