connectivity matters
Battlefield Communications October 20, 2020  |  Written by

Enhancing Battlefield Communications Through the Use of Dynamic Best-Path Selection

Battlefield communication systems are often hampered by inadequate capacity, flexibility, security and access. Over time, a broad range of performance and operational requirements has resulted in the use of numerous incompatible communications systems and waveforms.

Furthermore, transition to more capable systems is made more complicated by the need to remain inter-operable with aging legacy platforms. Although the JTRS program and Software Defined Radio was envisioned as a solution to the difficulties of systematic technology insertion, it has yet to meet operational expectations.

Network resiliency and operational complexity urgently need addressing. Until networks are fully capable of fast self-healing, skilled human operators and analysts will remain necessary to interact with equipment and link protection systems, interpreting their results and taking corrective restorative actions based on the indications. Operator familiarity with these systems and the threats to them will continue to dictate how quickly and correctly problems can be identified and resolved..

The JTRS mobile ad hoc waveforms were expected to provide less complexity through self-healing capabilities. However, their reliance on complex protocols and algorithms has limited the ability to build scalable networks with these waveforms. This problem is directly attributable to the rapid decrease in network efficiency as the size of the network increases, which is a result of the overhead burden associated with maintaining and disseminating routing information to a large number of nodes.

The integration of dynamic best-path selection technology with existing and emerging communications systems offers a practical means for addressing these issues. The best-path selection system operates above the physical and data link layers and is capable of reacting appropriately using multiple, dynamic links. In this scenario, the radio systems provide transport while the dynamic best-path selection system handles directing and de-duplicating traffic.

In fact, the best-path algorithm does not require radios at all but rather network interfaces that might be based on radio, copper, fiber, or other mechanisms.

Only minimal metadata is required from interfaces in order to support the best-path algorithm. In the absence of this data, the best-path algorithm would fall back to a “good enough” approach that gathers its own metadata for the interface. Certain commercial Mesh networking systems have used this technique for over a decade in situations where reliability of overall communications is of paramount concern, but availability of any given node or communications channel cannot be relied upon…

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