Platoon-Level IP: $73M to Datapath for Joint Network Node Support
Small business qualifier Datapath Inc. in Duluth, GA received a $73 million firm-fixed-price contract for equipment and support services, for portions of the Joint Network Node network. Work will be performed in Duluth, GA and is expected to be complete by Aug. 31, 2007. This was a sole source contract initiated on April 5, 2006 by the Army Communications-Electronics Command in Fort Monmouth, NJ (W15P7T-06-C-G205).
Major General Michael R. Mazzucchi, Program Executive Officer Command, Control and Communications Tactical (PEO C3T), has described the origins and development of the JNN program this way:
“The recent conflict [i.e. the Global War on Terror] clearly showed that our terrestrial network fell woefully short in three areas: radio ranges did not meet the need; isolated yet critical nodes could not be readily defended; and bandwidth to battalion echelon was virtually non-existent…”
“While all of these shortfalls will be addressed by WIN-T, there was consensus across the leadership that improvements are needed now… As a result, we are kicking off a comprehensive communications upgrade, which will see replacement of the terrestrial-based Mobile Subscriber Equipment switching systems with an up-to-date joint-capable package with connectivity provided down to battalion by high bandwidth commercial satellites systems. The actual acquisition is underway… As this project, which we have entitled ‘Joint Network Node Network,’ evolves, we plan to migrate over to military satellite assets as they become available.”
To remove some of that technical jargon, JNN-N provides Internet capability to a small platoon on the ground, which can now communicate with the rest of the world. These capabilities did not exist in the past. The node consists of vehicles and shipping containers (the Joint Network Node, the Battalion Command Post Node, the Ku SATCOM trailer and the Hub Node) equipped with systems that provide voice over IP, dynamic IP, videoconferencing and access to the military’s classified and unclassified networks. JNN-N works for commanders at their headquarters, and soldiers operating in smaller units.
With respect to the SATCOM dimension, the US Army sees value in using commercially available Ku-band satellites via an integrated suite of state-of-the-art baseband, switching and termination equipment. Commercial Ku-band SATCOM offers performance and availability advantages that include higher throughput rates, as well as the ability to upgrade many of the fielded Ku-band terminals to Ka-band once the first Wideband Gapfiller Satellite is launched.
Federal Computing Weekly is less diplomatic:
“WIN-T is intended to provide tactical units on the battlefield with broadband, IP-based voice, video and data communications, a job performed quite well during the past few years by the Joint Network Node at about a tenth of the cost of using commercial gear, including satellite terminals from DataPath and routers and voice-over-IP systems from Cisco.
The Army has fielded JNN to every infantry battalion operating in Iraq and has started to push the gear down to the company level, providing maneuver unit commanders with the ability to make a VOIP phone call to anywhere in the world from anywhere in the world.
JNN does not operate on the move, but our pals at General Dynamics, which currently holds the JNN contract, awarded on a sole-source basis, and the Central Command say they expect to fix that problem.
JNN has been so successful that the Army has decided to make it a formal program of record…”
The JNN team is fielding approximately 7 JNN shelters per month, and over 40 sets of battalion level connection points.
- FCW (April 2/07) – WIN-T to LOST-T? Compares and contrasts WIN-T with the success of JNN.
- Fort Monmouth Team C4ISR Knowledge Center (March 17/06) – Communications system developed here named winner
- Army Communicator (Winter 2005) – Providing the bridge to the future network with commercial wideband SATCOM
- C4ISR Journal (Oct 29/04) – Joint Network Node Gives Soldiers More Mobile Communications, Increased Bandwidth
- Federal Computer Weekly (Nov 22/04) – Iraq-bound 3rd Infantry ready to share
- Military Information Technology (Oct 19/04) – Interim Mobile Communications System Readied for Iraq