Armada’s monthly roundup of all the latest news in the military communications product, programme and operational domains.
The DNA in ADN
Evergreen Innovations revealed in a press release that its All-Domain Network (ADN) had been used during the Northern Strike 23-2 Reserve Component Readiness Exercise in July and August. The exercise took place at the National All-Domain Warfighting Centre, Michigan and involved the state’s National Guard. The ADN provided a communications backbone for the exercise. The Michigan National Guard refers to the ADN as the Michigan All-Domain Network. This is not the first time the network has been used to support such exercises. The company stated that the ADN had been deployed in 2021 for similar exercises. In the words of the press release, the ADN “ties together third-party Mobile Ad-Hoc Networking (MANET) radios and fixed antennas, advanced integration software and government common operating picture software, enabling geographically dispersed units to conduct complex operations.”
Evergreen Innovations told Armada via a written statement that the ADN comprises “different technologies brought together to create a secure, adaptable, and scalable network backbone to facilitate data creation and data sharing at the edge … All while maintaining connectivity back to command elements in the rear.” The system is agnostic regarding the networks it federates. These networks can include civilian and military Satellite Communications (SATCOM), cellular networks and military tactical networks. “The backbone of the ADN is a third-party MANET. This MANET is critical due to its open standards, scalability, and built-in features.” The MANET creates the battlefield connectivity. Data then flows through the associated networks to and from a computer cloud. Ultimately, the ADN architecture is used to connect decision-makers to “the tip of the spear.”
From a hardware perspective, the ADN uses third-party MANET radios, a SATCOM terminal which accesses SpaceX’ Starlink constellation, cloud computing access via Microsoft’s Azure service, the Team Awareness Kit (TAK) and situational awareness software. TAK is an Android-based situational awareness application. Evergreen emphasises that the ADN is scalable: “(The system) can be scaled to any size. There have even been proposals for country-wide networks. The technology allows the ADN to be as simple as two radios talking to each other or as complex as covering an entire geographic region.”
Spinning the Web
General Micro Systems (GMS) launched its new X9 Spider Intelligent Switch on 22nd September. A press release announcing the news said that the X9 Spider product family includes “modular, scalable and open distributed computing architecture systems designed to reduce the development barriers to rugged high-performance computing, high-definition video, sensor processing, AI (Artificial Intelligence) battlefield edge processing, storage, display and I/O (Input/Output).” The company says that these switches can be used “in any standalone high-performance deployed network, including industrial and other types of rugged applications.”
Chris Ciufo, GMS’ chief technology and chief commercial officer, told Armada that the X9 Spider Switch “provides a ‘fan out’ from four 100 gigabit/Gb fibre Ethernet ultra fat pipes, to eight ten gigabit Ethernet ports.” He added that “(w)ith built-in Layer-2 and Layer-3 routing, the switch is a perfect way to connect four high bandwidth processing nodes (for example, four GMS X9 Spider Mission Computers with eight ten gigabit Ethernet ports.” Mr. Ciufo argues that the “problem with centralised computers is that once developed and deployed, changing or modifying them, by adding new features to meet expanded requirements, is very difficult or impossible.” He says that “(t)he fundamental premise of the X9 Spider family is to break the paradigm of the ‘centralised’ embedded computer, where all the computer’s functions are resident in a single box.” The rationale of the X9 product family is to create what the company calls the Distributed Computing Architecture (DCA). “The DCA can easily create unique network architectures, for example, including multiple levels of independent security (and) red/black networks. We have customers today realising multi-node red and black networks using a variety of X9 modules.”
Mr. Ciufo said that development of all X9 Spider modules is now complete with operational, environmental and electromagnetic testing at the chassis, connector, cable and system level ongoing. The company has also won several undisclosed customers for the products.
by Dr. Thomas Withington