Video: Army to Test Battlefield Network

The U.S. Army plans to conduct a key test of the next installment of a battlefield communications network made by General Dynamics Corp. this month at Fort Bliss, Texas.

The system, known in military parlance as Warfighter Information Network – Tactical, or WIN-T, Increment 2, is a high-speed, high-capacity communications network for the war zone. It uses radios, satellites and antennae on blast-resistant trucks to provide troops with mobile voice and data communications.

The product is one of five major systems under review this month as part of the Army’s so-called Network Integration Evaluation, the fifth in an ongoing series of semi-annual exercises that began in 2011. A lot is riding on the assessment, according to the Army.

“A successful test will enable the Army to keep fielding WIN-T Increment 2 to operational units,” the service said in an overview of the systems under review.

Soldiers with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, are already deploying to Afghanistan with the service’s next-generation communications system that includes smart phone-compatible radios developed under the Joint Tactical Radio System and Nett Warrior programs.

See related video, “Soldiers Test New Radios at Polk.”

The Army has called upgrading its battlefield network its “foremost investment priority.”

WIN-T is at the heart of those efforts, though in a test last year the second part of the program was found “not suitable due to poor reliability and maintainability and not survivable,” according to a January report from J. Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s top weapons tester.

The Army says it “has aggressively pursued and implemented corrective actions to address the areas identified for improvement during the previous test,” according to the review.

The second installment of the program is estimated to cost $6.2 billion for 2,846 units, a 64-percent increase in cost from 2007, according to a Government Accountability Office report from March.

Funding for WIN-T and other programs may be threatened this year as the Army grapples with a budget shortfall due to automatic spending cuts and high-than-expected war costs. The service may face an imbalance of more than $15 billion, Army Secretary John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno have said. The situation is hurting its ability to prepare for war, they said.

In a lobbying blitz, General Dynamics and its suppliers reportedly deployed hundreds of officials to Capitol Hill last month to argue against plans to transfer funding from the program.

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of Military.com. He can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.

36 Comments on "Video: Army to Test Battlefield Network"

  1. USS ENTERPRISE | May 3, 2013 at 8:03 pm | Reply

    "General Dynamics and its suppliers reportedly deployed hundreds of officials to Capitol Hill last month to argue against plans to transfer funding from the program." Not surprising. They want the money. Please, Gov't, fund this. We are going away from the defense contractors. Look at one of the last com systems the US had resulted in, the Internet. If the gov't allows, I would love to see what this results in (hopefully more than just a battlefield network).

  2. I wonder how long it would take a set of Chinese, NK, or Iranian hackers to pwn a battlefield network?

  3. There are a lot of retirement jobs on the line with this project. That is why handsets that deliver last centuries technology at $2.1.million each and will make no operational difference are considered critical.

  4. Gotta get the big rollout of hardware made by company X so when you retire you can be a board adviser to company X!

    Wish that was a joke, I've personally heard first hand accounts of this happening.

  5. Good , all the people use smartphones and satellite signal today , you need a great and better system to encript the signals ….. like a "new" navajo code ……. because all in the air could be taked ……. You can't trust in the machines …….

  6. You can use a doble system for encript the signals …….. machine and human …….. remember II War …….. use the history …… include you will be seek for a third ……

  7. RunningBear | May 6, 2013 at 9:20 am | Reply

    Good ideas are "re-nvented" every twenty years. Today, the kids have to make it to forty before they get the "hang of it". :)

    Don't you know!, history is for old people!; not realizing that is how they got to be old. :D

    …oh and RC-12s weren't just invented for Iraq and A..stan.

  8. ConcernedCitizen | May 6, 2013 at 3:01 pm | Reply

    I am worried about electronic emissions. How easy is it to spot a bunch of electromagnetic energy emitting from each of these sources?

  9. From an operational standpoint this project looks very promising. It would essentially improve efficiency and provide a new infrastructure to the way the Army operates. My only concern is sustainability of the project. Imagine the costs of updating this system. Now that scares me.

  10. VMan a V4... | May 7, 2013 at 6:02 pm | Reply
  11. If you are using WIN-T equipment your not trying to hide yourself from anyone… so worrying about EM emissions is kind of moot. WIN-T will be used in big battle groups not necessarily by stealthy special forces.

  12. There are a lot of retirement jobs on the line with this project. That is why handsets that deliver last centuries technology at $2.1.million each and will make no operational difference are considered critical.

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