MV-22 Osprey networking capability assessed in JEFX 10
by Andrew H. Lee
USMC Photo by GnySgt. Steven Williams
Digital video is coming to the V-22. Under an advanced communications technology development initiated by Boeing Rotorcraft Systems, two U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Ospreys made their debut in the U.S. Air Force-sponsored Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment 2010 (JEFX 10) in April at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, demonstrating high speed data transfer for combat operations. The event marked the first time Ospreys had participated in JEFX which, in its ninth year, aims to integrate innovations in organization, technologies and processes in order to deliver needed capabilities to the warfighter.
On its first attempt, the Osprey was able to successfully receive multiple unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) video streams in the cabin and cockpit while flying over Nellis’ test range. In addition, the Osprey transmitted cabin video off-board for viewing by the Nellis Command Center during the flight, all the while maintaining chat sessions with participants in the network.
A team of engineers on the V-22 program in Philadelphia designed and installed the Boeing Advanced Tactical Network System, which can be operated independently from the aircraft avionics system.
"This is a light weight, airborne Internet Protocol (IP)-based network system connecting command and control, air assets, and disadvantaged war fighters on the ground over a mesh network as opposed to a point-to-point data link," said John Clemens, Boeing JEFX Project Lead.
The system components Clemens and the JEFX team are utilizing include a small roll-on/roll-off airborne kit with a network server and net-ready applications, including UAV video dissemination, Chat, Common Operating Picture, Tactical White-boarding, and more; a SeaLancet IP-based network radio; pilot kneeboards, and dismount warfighter kit. Finally, four cabin monitors are included to provide the Marines real time Situational Awareness during flight, along with other functions.
"JEFX offers an excellent joint operational environment for us to experiment with our newest interoperability capabilities," said LCDR Chris Sylvester, NAVAIR PMA-275. "The MV-22 Joint Networked Interoperability (M-JNI) initiative is addressing a major shortfall - the lack of capability to do collaboration and information sharing in the joint environment."
During the JEFX experiment, various components of the network were turned on and off successively in different flights to assess the mission effectiveness of conducting operations with and without network access. As configured for the experiment, the Boeing Advanced Tactical Network System connected the MV-22, AH-64 Apache, E-2C Xhawk Test Aircraft, various UAVs, and warfighter ground teams.