The US Army has announced that it will intensify its efforts in the digitization process of the Stryker Brigade Combat Team.
After successfully integrating their new, more flexible and expedition-oriented network capability into dismantled units, the Army is now focusing on providing the same capabilities to Stryker brigade combat teams, according to PEO C3T Public Affairs.
In order to create uniform equipment packages for these ITN components (Integrated Tactical Network) across several Stryker variants, the Army has been carrying out an ITN Stryker characterization measure with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment (2 / CR) since April 2020. Efforts will support the iterative modification of integrated ITN component designs into these vehicle platforms.
On the current timeline, the characterization will be completed in fiscal year (FY) 2022. This makes the 2 / CR the first Stryker unit that is partially equipped with a CS21 ITN.
The Army first used CS21 ITN in October 2020 for the 1st Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division. The next ITN field was used for the 173rd Airborne Division that month.
“We are excited to continue with this next phase of CS21, which will enhance ITN capabilities for Mounted, Mobile and Rapid Stopping,” said Lt. Col. Brandon Baer, Helicopter and Multi Mission Radio Product Manager (HAMMR), the Assigned to the Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communication Tactics (PEO C3T).
The ITN approach adds new commercial components and network transport capabilities to the army’s tactical network environment to provide maneuvering brigades, including smaller, lighter, faster and more flexible communications systems. By adding mounted ITN capabilities, commanders can maintain a battalion-wide terrestrial voice and data network, and soldiers can operate through the Secure But Unclassified (SBU) enclave while switching between dismantled and assembled operations.
“SBU continues to be the breakthrough capability that ITN enables,” said Baer. “It allows data to be categorized according to its classification, which is just as important to our mounted units since data in the battalion and below is often perishable and unclassified.”
To perform the CS21 ITN Stryker characterization, employees of the HAMMR team work with engineers and technicians from the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) in the C5ISR Center Prototype Integration Facility (PIF) at APG. With Strykers in the integration bay, the team will determine the most effective use of the limited space in the vehicles and then design and build the optimized hardware necessary to integrate the ITN kits into the vehicles.
To ensure realistic operational requirements, the PIF team is working directly with 2 / CR due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, currently via video conferencing.
“We conducted remote user judging which allowed the 2 / CR soldiers to show us their vehicle space restrictions and, in turn, to show them how much space our proposed designs would take up,” said Jim Leary, C5ISR PIF project engineer.
The 2 / CR conducts missions with multiple commanders and infantry carriers using Stryker variants, with the infantry carrier configurations being the most common.
“Each vehicle within the 2 / CR may need something unique to accomplish its mission, but our goal is to develop a one-kit-fits-all-variant approach,” said Leary.
The characterization resulted in the production of two unique ITN equipment kits. Kit 1 will be included with almost every Stryker variant and will include the mobile broadband kit for 4G LTE network functionality, the 2nd generation Manpack radio, a mounted two-channel leader radio and a unique power distribution box, Leary said.
Kit two, which is only intended for the Command Vehicle Stryker variant, includes a Tactical Server Infrastructure computer, a Silvus radio, a Tactical Radio Integration Kit box, a tactical cross-domain solution and a power distribution unit, Leary said.
Both kits contain various brackets, cables, hardware and installation instructions and can be adapted to other 2CR tactical vehicles such as high mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicles, medium tactical vehicles (MTVs) and the MTV replacement, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, if available, ”he said.
The youngest user panel of the video conference with the 2CR presented the final proposed component designs and recommendations from the team on where to place them in the available space of the vehicles, Leary said.
“Our last review was mostly positive,” said Leary. “Next, we send PIF-produced 3D models of the kits to the 2 / CR so they can confirm that the seat we claim is correct or provide an alternate location for unique vehicle configurations.”
After a review and validation to systematically evaluate the performance of each component and the lifting of the COVID travel restrictions, PM TR and PIF employees will travel to Germany from May to August on 2 / CR to integrate CS21 ITN into Strykers. All characterization efforts will culminate in September 2021 with a squadron-level exercise that will lead to the formal assessment of the next set of capabilities, CS23, in fiscal 2022.
“Our goal is always to develop a design that repeats itself over and over, rather than creating a unique design for each vehicle,” said Leary. “In this way, we save money, reduce the logistical footprint across several vehicle types, but above all we make it as easy as possible for the integration efforts of the entire force.”