Surveillance and Control Systems for the Modern Military
By Steve Wigent, Product Manager
The modern military is becoming more networked. This facilitates all forms of communications and can also enhance the safety of modern military tactical training programs. This article will discuss how PT's MPS800 Communications Server and Radar Receiver Protocol are being used in a Wide Area Network (WAN) designed by Digicomp Research for the United States Joint Forces Command's Joint Combat Identification Exercise (JCIDEX).
JCIDEX conducts large-scale tactical training exercises to evaluate and assess integration and interoperability of systems to improve tactics, techniques, and procedures across all combat mission areas. During training exercises, an evaluation or warning area is established and monitored to ensure that the military participants stay within the designated warning area established for the exercise. Additionally, the warning area must also be monitored to ensure civilian aircraft do not enter the area.
Aircraft Radar Management
Digicomp has designed a Surveillance and Control System that utilizes a WAN to manage radar data from multiple sources so that aircraft can be tracked, displayed, and monitored. The system is the first of its kind used by JCIDEX to manage evaluation airspace. The PT Radar Protocol and the MPS800 Communications Server are used to ensure the awareness of military participants, and any civilian traffic that may mistakenly enter the field of play. During one JCIDEX exercise, the Digicomp system monitored more than 350 air events flown within 15,000 square miles of airspace over a period of 60 hours.
The Radar Receiver Protocol, running entirely on the MPS800, can be configured independently for each of the eight serial ports the MPS800 offers and supports a number of different radar formats, including CD-2, TPS-43, ASTERIX (RAMP) and Thomson-CSF. PT provides the ability to receive and transmit these formats from remote sites over significant distances.
The network incorporates a number of MPS800's that are connected via Ethernet to a central location. Radar data is received on a MPS800's serial line, and the appropriate radar protocol strips out the radar particulars (e.g. headers, idle messages), and then retransmits the payload over Ethernet to a central server on the network for further processing and eventual display/monitoring on a radar operator's console. A example of this type of WAN is shown in the figure below.
The MPS800 can connect up to eight serial lines of data that can carry a number of different protocols (HDLC, Radar, X.25, Frame Relay, etc.). Each serial line can be accessed simultaneously by multiple clients. The MPS800 is a WAN/LAN data communication server that attaches to LANs to provide wide-area connectivity. The MPS800 also provides one 10/100 Ethernet port for connecting the LAN to the WAN. This capability makes the MPS800 ideal for applications that require an intelligent WAN/LAN bridge, WAN/LAN gateway device, or a remote WAN connectivity server. Through TCP/IP connections and PT's MPS-API, virtually all computers and workstations on the LAN can access information from this server.
In the Digicomp system, the MPS800 is being used as a WAN/LAN bridge, and the radar protocol is being used to carry the data. This Surveillance and Control System is one example of how the modern military is using Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) products to become networked.** This article was reproduced from Summer 2004 Embedded Computing Design Magazine.