communications that will be in place by 2006 will continue to be concentrated in the ultrahigh-, superhigh-, and extremely high frequency bands and will also have assured access to an array of commercially provided communications. The commercial world will also provide a broad satellite communications (SATCOM) infrastructure including L, C, and Ku-and communications, and a terrestrial infrastructure based on fiber-optic links. The architectural trends are illustrated in Figure 2. The Navy and Marine Corps can take advantage of these developments to design the “retail-level” systems needed to implement the future OMFTS.

Communications links and terminals at the “retail” level should be highly mobile, robust, and jointly interoperable with other Service systems. They should have high capacity for transfer of all necessary status, targeting, and logistic information. They should be able both to transmit filtered, processed, and tailored situational awareness data at a high rate to forward forces having small terminals and to receive such information from the forward forces. Ships would transmit the data via broadcast satellites, while forward forces with very light equipment would use surrogate satellites in the form of communication relays, preferably carried by UAVs dedicated to the purpose. (Communication relays can be launched or emplaced ad hoc, in airplanes or on hilltops. The value of dedicating UAVs to the purpose is that the relay-carrying UAVs would be a known and reliable part of the system, launched for the purpose during the landing operation, without the uncertainties attending ad hoc deployment during the exigencies of battle. They would be most economical of manned aircraft and personnel at critical times during the operation, and they would avoid the risk that the enemy might dominate the necessary high ground at the time of need.) The communications system should allow forward and rearward transmittal of information in direct communication modes if needed, and in broadcast modes that would allow potential users to download the information they need selectively without becoming saturated by a flood of data.

Desired system features include the following:

  • Assured and seamless (without breaks or pauses at switching points) connectivity, permitting both voice and high-rate data transmissions among major headquarters and forward troops down to platoon and squad level, and even to individual soldiers deployed on combat-related missions;

  • Interoperability with other Service communications and with the local communications infrastructure, both civilian and military;

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